Friday, May 28, 2010

Sometimes it is a Dark World by Lt. Pata

I have been all over the public safety employment world looking for what could further my art habit and maybe help pay the bills too. I figured out long ago that there was no security in art and my last name was not Rockwell. The start for me was as a dispatcher for the San Rafael Fire Department, then as an ambulance driver for a private company, a Coroner’s intern in Marin County and a Deputy Driver for the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office. I’d like to say I have seen all sides of this business literally, from birth to death.

I am one of a distinguished list of men and woman who can actually say that I literally worked the graveyard shift. While the Coroner jobs were unbelievably interesting and provided me with a unique perspective, and personal growth, I learned something about myself. I learned that “the big tough guy” I tried to be all these years, was defeated by way too many incidents involving children.

Some officers have safety valves and filters to help us through very difficult calls, and it’s usually never really a problem when the adrenaline is going and you are deep into the call, it’s the stuff that happens after the call, when you’re alone, that will “get you” if you don’t have a good support mechanism.

I am grateful that after all of these years, I never lost the grace to understand that tragedy is supposed to bother you. Its grounding. Guys like Officer (Doc) Joel Fay, our families, friends and our Chaplains help us navigate through the days when you don’t want to come to work.

Our department has a peer support team that keeps an eye on our people and they help plug in and offer resources or just a cup of coffee when we need it. Life can be hard enough sometimes without the complications or distractions from the job. Like many people, we also have off-duty issues, like providing for your family, helping our kids with their school or sports while keeping some of the horrible stories and images far away from them. Its funny, one day a pal asked me what I was going to do when I retired. I didn’t even think about it, and I responded “Something normal, like working at a winery.”

Our little microcosm of police work way too often is tossed upside down or shaken, kind of like a snow globe. When an officer is killed in the line of duty, or when and officer is accused of committing a crime, it is devastating to the entire law enforcement community. A death like the horrible events that lead to the death of the Oakland Officers is, not something that happens everyday. We train for it, but no matter how hard you train, sometimes the suspect will have the upper hand and fate takes over. The impact of an officer’s death, no matter where it is- can be like a pebble in the pond, the reverberations of that loss flow from the center outward to all of us.

Think about it, our lives depend on our partners; their courage and valor drive them into danger to help out their fellow officer or citizen. We spend most of our time at work with our teams, so it only makes sense that we sometimes are hit hard by these events.

So this little uplifting blog was really designed to share the dimensions and the depth of character of our officers. Anyone could have typed this because may of us have similar experiences and feelings. TV and movie cops don’t go far enough to plug their audience into the reality of our lives. Maybe it explains why we sit in restaurants with our backs against the wall.

Stay safe. Ralph

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'm Back with a FULLER Plate!

I feel like I've neglected you guys! Lt Dan caught me in the hall, the other day, and basically said, "Blog, blog!" so, here I am!

Since my last post, as Lt Dan mentioned, I was asked to be a guest blogger for the International Association of Chiefs Of Police's site Discover Policing which provides, "career advice, personal perspectives and insightful information about the law enforcement profession." They can be found at It was an honor to be asked! I'm not sure how often I'll be able to contribute or how different my blogs will be from here but who knows where you'll find me next!

Remember, I said I love to be involved? If you've been following the headlines for San Rafael, you know we've been busy. We, everyone and I mean everyone, has been busting their tail to solve crimes and arrest the bad guys and gals! I've had to wear my CSI hat on more than one occasion during the past few weeks - which can make for some extremely long days and no days off. BUT I'm not complaining, I love being able to get "out there" to use different skills than I do in Communications. Dispatching can cause mental fatigue - especially when things are rocking and rolling and you barely have time to use the restroom! CSI work usually causes physical fatigue - you're hauling, lifting, crawling, and even tearing down walls.

Especially when our workloads increase, like any profession, it's tricky balancing our home and professional lives - and keeping all those involved happy. It's a give and take and eventually things settle down but sometimes it can be a roller coaster ride. It's not healthy to just live and breathe work so many of us pack our days off to capacity which can lead to burning the proverbial candle at both ends. And then you get I did! I've learned it's my body's way of warning me that if I don't listen something worse will happen - yes, I had to learn the hard way and yes, I am stubborn. So, I spent this last weekend, in bed, catching up on much needed sleep with the help of NyQuil. I rebounded pretty quickly which is a good thing cause I'm the on call CSI this week!

On the personal side, my photography class has ended and I learned some new stuff while rediscovering an old passion. (Now, if I only had time to go out and take some "knock your socks off" photographs.) So, with that cleared off my plate...I had to add something new. I decided to join The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's TEAM IN TRAINING. I'll be raising funds to help find a cure for blood cancers in exchange for professional coaching and mentoring. I've chosen the San Francisco Nike Women's Marathon as my endurance event but I will be running the half (13.1 miles!) in October. I'm probably a little crazy for doing this (especially after several surgeries on both knees) but I'm psyched, excited and proud to be part of this group. GO TEAM! If you want to find out more about TNT or donate, visit my fund raising page at - I hope to be constantly updating my progress there.

Be safe out there! and remember, you can always reach me at

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hello From Lieutenant Pata

My name is Raffaello Pata. I am the Lieutenant responsible for night patrol operations along with a nice assortment of collateral stuff like our Hostage Negotiation Team, Foot Patrol, Police Artist and bunch of other things that are not so exciting. I am also now a contributor to this blog.

My contributions will come from a different perspective. It will come to you as a guy that never really wanted to be a cop. I went to the police academy so I could become a Coroner’s Investigator. It wasn’t long after joining the SRPD that I got the “bug.” The bug is what takes over your desire to do anything else in the first couple of years on the job, but eat, breath and perspire police work.

After nearly 20 years of patrol and detective work I decided to test to promote. Luck and hard work paid off and I was promoted from Officer, to Corporal, Sergeant and now Lieutenant. I’ll try not to come off like some stiff administrator who is bent on counting how many paperclips we go through each year, mainly because it's not who I am. I really want to share some of my observations of what it’s like to do this job and now what its like to work with the next generation of people in this service.

My goal is to inform, maybe entertain a little, and give you a peak into one of the best jobs in the world. I admit that I have been seduced by the adrenaline and the challenge of the chess-game that is law enforcement. I’ll introduce you to some of the most interesting people you have met, and share with you some stories of great police work

Talk to you soon. rp

PS: My e-mail is if anyone has any comments.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Week is Starting

Good Morning everyone. I hope all of you were excited to see the blog from Dispatcher Anndora. She is awesome and the next day after her blog was posted a national law enforcement organization asked her to blog for them too. So let me get this straight, I blog like 5 times and no one cares, she blogs once and is an immediate star....hmmmm.....okay just kidding, congrats to her. I look forward to hearing more from her on here. Also, thanks to everyone for the kind words and donations for Officer Sabido and his journey to Haiti. He was very appreciative and wanted me to send everyone his regards.

So got to my desk extra early this morning (about 0515 hrs) after a quick stop at Peets. I have a pile on my desk that I need to get through because I am also in the process of finishing up a grant application. This grant is from the Feds and will be used in conjunction with the Marin County Sheriff's Office to increase gang enforcement in the county. The San Rafael City Council will be considering the grant on May 17th and the application is due June 30th. With all the approvals and such, if it all goes well I hope that it is funded sometime in the fall. That doesn't mean that we won't pay for our own extra gang enforcement this summer, it just means that we may get a little financial relief for some of the costs in the fall. Okay, enough about that I am probably boring you all with finance talk. This is a good example though that not all police work involves going on the street and taking bad guys to jail Administrators like me have that extra responsibility for more paperwork and the constant threat of a nasty paper cut if we are not careful! Anyways, have a great week and be safe out there!

Lt. Dan

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Help Send Officer Sabido to Haiti

Hello everyone......please read the below letter from Officer Tom Sabido. He is going to Haiti to help out and is looking for some help.

Lt. Dan

Help send Officer Tom Sabido to Haiti

A unique opportunity has come my way and I am hoping to go to Haiti on a short term Humanitarian Relief trip from May 21-28. I need your help to make it happen. The cost of the trip is $2500.00. This opportunity just came up recently for me and a small group of men from BayMarin Community Church in San Rafael. We will be partnering with Homes for Haiti/RMI ministries which will involve erecting transitional homes in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.

Thanks to generous donations from the San Rafael Police Officers and Mid-Managers Association, from the San Rafael Firefighters Association, and from individual City of San Rafael employees, I have nearly reached my goal. But more help is still needed.

One of the other men on the trip is a teacher at a local grade school, When he shared this opportunity with a 3rd grade class today, one 9 year old girl asked if she could "start a lemonade stand to help."

If you can help in any way please send a check (address at the bottom) payable to "By Faith" with my name (Tom Sabido) noted on the check. By Faith will issue a tax receipt at the year end. No donation is too small.

Checks can be mailed to:

By Faith

C/O Gregor Gregory
4408 Pierce Street
Hollywood, FL 33021

Note: 25% of the proceeds raised will be a direct donation to supporting the projects that we will be involved in. This will include the purchase of food for the poor.

Haiti is still in need. You can help! But you need to act today. Will you help?

God Bless,

Tom Sabido

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

There's a New Blogger in Town!

Hey, everyone!

Since this is my first blog, ever, I thought I'd introduce myself to you. My name is Anndora (but most folks call me A.D.). I've been with the Department for 19+ years, which is actually a bit frightening realizing that I've been here for most of my adult life. I have a BS in Emergency Management with a minor in Public Safety Telecommunications (which is a fancy way of saying Dispatching). I also teach at POST Public Safety Dispatcher's Academy. While my title at the Department is "911 Police Communications Dispatcher," I actually wear lots of hats - Peer Support, Honor Guard, Tactical Dispatcher, Crime Scene Investigations, Communications Training Officer and probably a few more but in a nut shell, I like to be involved. I'm thankful to be part of an agency that allows me, the dispatcher, to venture out of the Comm Center to become a vital part of the department - cause, trust me, most other agencies don't.

No, I don't live and breathe SRPD but I'd be lying if I didn't say I truly care about the people I work with and it's an important part of who I am. We are a family and sometimes we spend more time with our work family than we do our home families. Experiences I have heard, smelled and seen can only be understood by someone who's been there before. It's hard to explain but hopefully, you'll get to know where I'm coming from through my attempts at blogging!

My life outside of SRPD - my family and friends are another important part of who I am. While I don't have kids of my own, I'm great a spoiling my 3 nieces much to my sister's chagrin! I love traveling. Trips to Florida and Hawaii are planned for this year (and hopefully I'll be visiting the Galapagos Islands, next year) but I also like exploring the Bay Area. Last year, I learned to scuba dive and hope to get my Advanced Open Water certification this summer. It's amazing and truly is a whole new world under the water (one of my nieces always asks if I've meet Ariel yet!). I'm taking a digital photography class and having a ball at it. I've owned my D-SLR for a few years and I've finally gained enough knowledge and confidence to take it off the automatic setting. It's fun finding the creative side.

I think I've babbled, I mean blogged, enough for now. You've gotten, just a glimpse of who I am and what I do. But, it is just a'll be hearing more about life as a 911 Police Dispatcher at San Rafael PD and then some.

Thanks for reading and be safe.

Dispatcher AD

PS - If you want to contact me and let me know you've read this far, here's my email.... Thanks!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My New York Trip and Department Update

Good morning everyone! It is nice to be back home and although a little tired, it is nice to be back at work. I had a great time in New York and enjoyed seeing all of the various places that I had seen in movies over the years. I fulfilled my pledge to eat my way through the NYC. Wow, they have some excellent restaurants there! I think the toughest part of the trip was going to ground zero. I truly felt the negative energy or heavy air when I was there. It was hard to believe that I was staring at the spot where the towers used to stand. There were a large amount of people there and the memorial was jammed. I brought an SRPD patch with me and placed it on the memorial next to a number of police and fire patches. It was a very emotional moment for me and the crowd was so nice and supportive when they discovered I was in law enforcement. It was such a weird feeling of being proud of my public safety brethern who lost their life and being so sad for the familes of my public safety brethern who lost their life. I always remember those pictures of the police officers and firefighters going up the stairs of the towers while massive amounts of people are going down the stairs to safety. Anyway, I know we always hear people say, "Never Forget" and after going there I truly believe in that statement.

The night I got back home, I learned that we had a gang related homicide. Our Detectives are working on this case and as usual are showing a tenacious attitude to solve cases and bring suspects to justice. Last night, Chief Odetto, Capatain Starnes, Captain Franzini, and I attended the San Rafael City Council Meeting so the Chief could make some remarks regarding the recent spike in violent crimes. I was very happy with the Chief's synopsis of what has been going on and equally as pleased with the support of the City Council. All of us are doing everything we can to continue to keep this beautiful city safe! That is all for now, I have to start going through my piles of stuff!