In The News via ABC News: DA fighting clemency request by convicted IE killer Kevin Cooper

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Click here to read full article and view video segment.

By Rob McMillan
Monday, May 21, 2018 10:38PM

"I didn't even know what I was looking at," said Bill Hughes, shaking his head. "It was just an unreal scene."

It's been nearly 35 years since he discovered the horrific crime scene inside a Chino Hills home.

Four people were found dead, including his 11-year old son Chris Hughes, who was there the night before for a sleepover. The only survivor was an 8-year old boy who was found with his throat slashed. That boy's sister, and both his parents were the other three victims who were killed.

"Their bedroom was a total mess, I thought someone had thrown paint on the walls," said Hughes. "But it was blood."

The man who was eventually convicted was Kevin Cooper.

At trial, prosecutors said Cooper, who had previous burglary convictions and was wanted for rape and kidnapping in a case out of Pennsylvania, had just escaped from the Chino Institute for Men two days prior to the murders.

Evidence presented at trial proved that Cooper had used a home about 125 yards from the murder scene as his hideout, and evidence tied him to not only a vehicle that was stolen from the victim's home, but the murder scene itself.

"We have got DNA in the home where they were killed," said San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos. "His DNA."

Monday, Ramos filed a petition with Gov. Jerry Brown voicing his opposition to the clemency request made by Kevin Cooper.

Ramos also voiced his frustration with a recent New York Times opinion article, alleging that Cooper was framed and that evidence was planted by police. The article is also calling for more DNA testing to be done on the evidence.

"It's a red herring," said Ramos. "They just want to throw something out there like Kevin Cooper does all his life, to get (him out of) the sentence he justly deserves."

Ramos points out the fact that post-trial DNA testing was already conducted in 2001, that not only confirmed a small spatter of Cooper's blood was found at the crime scene, but a bloody shirt found along a nearby road had DNA of both Cooper, and one of the victims.

Ramos also says new DNA testing done on the murder weapon, a hatchet, would be inconclusive, since so many people have already touched it.

"Numerous people touched that hatchet in the neighbor's home; and numerous people - including jurors in the court - touched all this evidence," explained Ramos. "So a lot of the DNA you would get would be unknown."

Nevertheless, there are those calling for new DNA testing. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris issued a tweet that read, "As a firm believer in DNA testing, I hope the governor and the state will allow for such testing in the case of Kevin Cooper."

A statement from Brown's office read, "We received a clemency petition from Mr. Cooper and it remains under review. A request for clemency is a serious matter and applications are thoroughly and diligently reviewed. That review will ultimately dictate next steps."

For the Hughes family, it's only more salt in the wound.

"Every time it comes up it gets you, because you relive it," said Bill Hughes. "And there should be a point where you don't have to do that."

Bill's wife Mary Ann says she has no doubt the actual killer is the one behind bars. And the one she believes should get the death penalty.

"There's no such thing as closure, that doesn't exist," said Mary Ann Hughes. "But there is such a thing as having justice. And that's what we keep waiting for."

District Attorney Ramos announces formation of Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit

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SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – District Attorney Michael Ramos (pictured above) joined a crowd of 200-plus victims of crime, law and justice members and community leaders today in the Board Chambers at the San Bernardino County Government Center to commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. After paying tribute to crime victims, District Attorney Ramos announced the creation of the Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit.

Public safety is of paramount importance to me as your District Attorney. Prosecuting criminals to the fullest extent of the law is what we do every day to obtain justice for victims, punish offenders, and deter others from committing crimes. However, public safety is also achieved if we can prevent a crime from occurring in the first place. The District Attorney’s Office is in a unique position to provide leadership in the community through crime prevention programs, intervention programs for appropriate low-level offenders, and community support programs.
— Mike Ramos, District Attorney

About Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit

We currently have many such programs in place, including Let’s End Truancy to encourage children to stay in school, Camp Good Grief to help support children of homicide/suicide victims, the Parent Project to teach parenting skills to parents of at-risk youth, the Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (GRIP) to immunize our elementary school students against gangs and drugs, Girls Court to give girls in the juvenile justice system the skills to get their lives back on track, RISE (Rehabilitation, Intervention, Support & Education) diversion program for first-time low level misdemeanor offenders, the Mock Trial Program to improve our high school students’ communication skills and understanding of our justice system, Veteran’s Court to address the special needs of our veterans who are in the criminal justice system, Mental Health Court to provide appropriate treatment for mentally ill non-violent offenders, and Drug Court to help rehabilitate non-violent drug addicts and thereby reduce drug-driven crimes.

As District Attorney, I recognize the importance of these programs to our public safety mission, and the need for a more coordinated county-wide approach to crime prevention and intervention, which leverages the resources of all our county law and justice agencies and the community. We will continue to ensure that we in the District Attorney’s Office are doing everything possible to not only prosecute crime, but to prevent crime. To help us accomplish these goals, I am proud to announce the creation of the Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit.

The Unit will consist of a team of seven prosecutors and support staff dedicated to reducing crime through prevention and intervention efforts, and working collaboratively with our criminal justice partners. The Unit will take a four-pronged approach to crime prevention:

1. Prevent our children from dropping out of school and falling prey to the criminal lifestyle, by significantly expanding our Let’s End Truancy Unit. Expand prosecutor participation in at-risk youth programs sponsored by our county law and justice partners. Studies show that 82% of incarcerated adults are high school dropouts, and raising graduation rates by 10% will reduce violent crime in our communities by 20%.

2. Divert low-level first-time misdemeanor offenders out of the criminal justice system and into short-term rehabilitation programs to quickly get them back on track and avoid serious negative impact to their futures. Studies show a higher success rate from this type of early positive intervention.

3. Support intensive court-assisted long-term rehabilitation and intervention programs, in coordination with our law enforcement and county behavioral health partners, for drug-addicted and mentally ill non-violent offenders. We must leverage our county and community resources to stop the revolving door of repeated drug-driven and mental illness-driven crimes

4. Provide increased leadership and expertise to county and community partnerships that work to accomplish crime prevention goals including the San Bernardino County Gangs and Drugs Task Force, San Bernardino County Re-Entry Collaborative, San Bernardino County Treatment Court Steering Committee, San Bernardino County Behavioral Health & Criminal Justice Consensus Committee, and San Bernardino County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council.

Together the District Attorney’s Office will continue our leadership role in the criminal justice system and help prevent crimes from occurring in our community.

IN THE NEWS via the San Bernardino Sun

San Bernardino County remembers crime victims, DA announce new unit to help schools

IN THE NEWS: DA won’t direct clean sweep of pot convictions in San Bernardino County

By Shea Johnson
Staff Writer

Posted Feb 8, 2018 at 4:36 PM Updated Feb 9, 2018 at 11:28 AM

While some California prosecutors begin to retroactively expunge or reduce pot convictions en masse as afforded by Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana, San Bernardino County’s top law enforcement official says he will “absolutely not” follow suit.

District Attorney Mike Ramos told the Daily Press this week despite actions by his peers in San Francisco and San Diego to proactively review cases and seek criminal record changes, this county’s prosecutors will instead follow the current as-requested formula set forth in the proposition.

“We have a system in place where an individual can petition the court to get their record (cleared),” he said by phone. “I think that system has worked pretty well for those who really want to rehabilitate and change their lifestyles.”

Meanwhile, advocacy groups like the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) support pending state legislation that would require the courts to automatically clean up records for individuals convicted of marijuana offenses that are either now no longer or lesser crimes.

NORML argues that “many aren’t aware that they qualify for re-sentencing, or can’t afford to bring a petition.”

Phyllis Morris, the Public Defender for San Bernardino County’s Public Defender’s Office, said that a court-backed system purge would remove the burden off her department, which is often under-resourced.

“The problem with recent laws is that they really put the burden on the client to act,” Morris told the Daily Press, “so we’re in this rehabilitative season — I don’t know how long it’s going to last — but if people have anything on their record, or any questions, they need to act.”

Currently, if someone contacts the Public Defender’s office, attorneys will research their case to determine all avenues for which they might be eligible, meaning potential changes not only due to Prop. 64 but also Prop. 47, the Three Strikes Reform Act, an incorrect rap sheet and other elements.

“We look at the global picture,” she said.

Her office will prepare the petitions and submit them to the DA’s office for review. If prosecutors sign off, it’s a done deal. If not, her office will file a petition with the court and request a hearing.

Either way, a court will ultimately have to OK the individual’s petition, but a judge will know beforehand whether it’s being contested or uncontested by the DA’s office.

Neither Morris or Ramos could immediately provide the most updated number of Prop. 64 petitions that have crossed through their offices since it passed in November 2016.

But according to potentially incomplete data reported by county courts throughout the state to the California Judicial Branch, there were 267 petitions submitted here, including two juvenile petitions, between November 2016 and September.

It’s less than half of what was submitted to courts in Los Angeles (617) and nearby Riverside (627) counties over the same period.

Speaking anecdotally, Morris said her office has seen less activity with Prop. 64 petitions than they have with Prop. 47, the ballot initiative approved in 2014 which reduced certain felonies to misdemeanors.

“And that’s what’s puzzling us,” she said, adding that even a significant number of their Prop. 64 cases had initially been submitted as Prop. 47, then individuals were told they qualified for the former.

But Morris said the recentness of Prop. 64 has likely played some factor in the lower number of petitions in this county.

“In my opinion, it seems like there was more talk, more debate around Prop. 47,” she said.

The Public Defender’s office does attend community outreach record-clearing clinics, however, which are spurred by community organizations first contacting them through a division branch. The clinic locations are hosted by the organizations, typically at churches, but attorneys do the work.

The office has so far conducted them in Victorville, San Bernardino, Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga, either on the weekend or in the evening after attorneys have wrapped up their daily calendar.

Ramos insisted he was “all for” petitioners being granted expungements or reductions in appropriate cases, yet also described how marijuana deals were often a part of the criminal economy perpetuated by gang members.

A clean sweep of what he estimated were 50,000 to 100,000 marijuana-related cases on file in this county would be a “huge disservice to the public,” he added, because of the intricacies involved in certain cases.

For instance, the DA’s office has prosecuted cases where a suspect might be facing auto theft and possession of marijuana charges. A plea bargain could have dismissed the more serious auto theft charge in an effort to push the suspect into drug court.

A blanket approach would enable that type of suspect to have his record cleared, he said, raising the specter that there was too much opportunity for collateral damage in the process.

The DA’s office also did not receive any additional funding to pore over marijuana cases nor do they have the staff to do so. It’s a resource deficiency he said he recently discussed with L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who shares his views.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, when he announced last week that his office would retroactively apply Prop. 64 to every marijuana case since 1975, said the city was leading efforts to “undo the damage that this country’s disastrous, failed drug war has had on our nation and on communities of color in particular.”

Ramos said he had not since reached out to Gascon or any other top county prosecutor beyond Lacey.

“I’m pretty solid on my position.”

Click here to view article.

IN THE NEWS: San Bernardino County DA castigates ‘liberal’ board after six convicted murderers granted parole

Uploaded by sbcountyda on 2018-02-06.

Click here to view Press Release

“Are you kidding me? I mean what’s going on in this state?” Ramos told the Daily Press. “We’re going to have to take back this system.”

Strongly urging the governor to reject their recommendations, San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos castigated the California Board of Parole Hearings on Tuesday as liberal agendists after six convicted murderers in this County were granted parole last month.

“Are you kidding me? I mean what’s going on in this state?” Ramos told the Daily Press. “We’re going to have to take back this system.”

With views echoing those conveyed in a one-minute, 52-second video posted to the DA’s office Youtube account, Ramos told this newspaper that his office’s efforts to keep “the worst of the worst” behind bars have become noticeably more difficult in the past three years amid criminal justice reforms.

He said that his team of senior lawyers, part of the Lifer Parole Unit created in 2003 to attend hearings and assist victims’ families, have seen their relationship with the Parole Board deteriorate from working to adversarial.

“Since then, in the last few years, parole hearings have gone absolutely, absolutely horrendously in the wrong way,” he said in the video. “I am sick and tired of a liberal agenda being placed on the backs of victims of crime, especially those who have lost loved ones to murder.”

He also sharply criticized assessment tools for parole consideration, which he said included giving preference to convicts because they were older than 60.

One of six convicted murderers granted parole last month whose crime occurred in this county, Herman Monk, 68, had been convicted of killing his estranged wife in 1992 and sentenced the next year to 26 years to life in prison.

The murder occurred in Lytle Creek, where Monk took Denise Monk to a restaurant, plied her with three to five double-strength cocktails and then took her to a secluded mountain road to a turnout overlooking a steep cliff, according to the DA’s office.

“With their young child watching from the truck, Monk shoved Denise off the 3,500-foot cliff. The fall didn’t kill her,” the office said in a statement. “During trial, the evidence showed that Monk descended the cliff to Denise’s resting place and bashed her head in with a rock as she lay incapacitated.”

Other convicted murderers granted parole included Robert Seabock, who killed a guard in a Chino prison in 1972; Christopher Asay, who robbed and killed an armored car driver in Baker in 1987; Mark Barros, who slit his girlfriend’s throat and stabbed her multiple times in Rialto in 1990; Francisco Villasenor, who shot and killed a person after breaking into their apartment and seeking purportedly stolen drug money either in or before 1993; and Gilbert Colon, who shot and killed a teenager who tried to break up a fight in San Bernardino in 1993 between Colon and his wife.

Ramos added the sheer number of parole approvals here in a single month was indicative of the worsening trend of leniency from the 15 governor-appointed commissioners who work under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman with CDCR, pushed back on Ramos’ assertions, saying the board under the law must assess whether individuals have turned their lives around and they reject parole the vast majority of the time.

“Unfortunately, D.A. Ramos is wrong on the facts and politicizing a serious process that’s been in place in California for more than a century,” Waters said in an email to the Daily Press. “The Parole Board is made up of law enforcement and public safety professionals with decades of experience, including a former prison warden, assistant sheriff, CHP division chief and supervising deputy district attorney, among others.”

CDCR officials say that several factors are submitted into consideration to determine whether an inmate should be granted parole, including whether they pose a current unreasonable risk to public safety.

The board also mulls input from the district attorney and testimony of victims or their next of kin, while also considering the inmate’s behavior during their incarceration.

The board rejects parole roughly 80 percent of the time, officials say, adding that life-term inmates have the lowest recidivism rates of all inmates released by CDCR.

Gov. Jerry Brown will have the ultimate say-so in all of these recommendations.

San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Connie Lasky, who is a member of the County’s Lifer Parole Unit, said the governor’s office will be notified of the grant of parole usually within 120 days and then has 30 days to review and either affirm or reverse each.

CDCR officials added that the board has up to 120 days to conduct a legal review under this process, and only submit the case to the governor if there are no found issues.

Transcripts of the full hearing for each inmate are available one month after the hearings take place.

Click here to read the full article.

SBSUN: To parole or not to parole? Debate sparked after panel says Inland killers have redeemed themselves, should be freed

By Stephen Ramirez | stramirez@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily BulletinPUBLISHED: February 8, 2018 at 11:00 am | UPDATED: February 8, 2018 at 11:22 am

San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos believes some crimes are so heinous that the perpetrators deserve to be locked up for as long as the law will allow it.

Others, like the California Board of Parole Hearings, believe that some inmates have turned their lives around and deserve to be freed.

The issue came to a head this week when it was announced that the state parole board ruled in January that six inmates convicted of murder should be granted parole.

The case that particularly tested Ramos’ patience is the case of Herman Clint Monk, who is accused of killing his estranged wife Denise in 1992.

At the time, Denise was living in Virginia with the couple’s 2 ½-year-old child, according to a District Attorney’s Office news release. Monk had reached out to her in the hopes of reconciling.

On the night of the slaying, the release said, Herman Monk drove her to a secluded mountain fire road and then shoved her off the cliff in the Lytle Creek area. Evidence at trial showed that the fall didn’t kill her – so Monk climbed down the cliff and hit Denise in the head with a rock.

Also granted parole in January were the following inmates convicted of murder:

  • Robert Seabock, who killed a Chino prison guard in 1972;
  • Francisco Villasenor, who around 1993 shot and killed a victim after breaking into the person’s  Chino apartment to steal back drug money he believed the victim had;
  • Mark Barros, who in 1990 stabbed his girlfriend to death in a Winchell’s parking lot in San Bernardino;
  • Christopher Asay, who killed a driver of an armored car in 1987 in Baker. Asay’s sentence was commuted to 25 years to life in August. In his application for clemency, he wrote: “I know that I cannot change the past, but I can and have done everything within my power to repent and improve myself.” Since being imprisoned, Asay has worked as a reader for the blind and taken self-help programs; and
  • Gilbert Colon, who shot and killed a 16-year-old boy in a San Bernardino apartment parking lot in 1993.

The specific reasons why individuals qualify for parole is not released until their hearing transcripts are made available, which typically is 30 days after their hearing.

The board’s ruling doesn’t mean the inmates will be automatically released. The board must alert the California Governor’s Office within 120 days and the governor then has 30 days to accept or reverse the decision.

‘Very frustrating’

“It’s very frustrating for me as the district attorney, because we work really hard in putting these cases together with law enforcement officers, with my lawyers going to trial and the families (of the victims) suffering through the trials,” Ramos said in an interview with this publication.

“Now you have a … soft-on-crime parole board that is making decisions that I truly believe are on the backs of victims and their families. All for this purpose of emptying out the prisons.”

It’s one thing, Ramos said, when talking about non-serious felons being released because of AB 109, “but when you start using the numbers to release killers … that’s horrible.”

AB 109, passed by California voters in 2011, is a public safety realignment initiative that defers convicted felons of non-serious, non-violent or non-sex-related crimes to be sentenced to county jail and/or non-custodial mandatory supervision, similar to probation. Before, individuals convicted of these types of crimes were sent to state prison.

Adds Ramos, who is up for re-election this year: “These are the cases where I can’t sleep at night knowing that families are suffering, because of these decisions that are being made up in Sacramento.”

Click here to read full article.

IN THE NEWS: Suspect in San Bernardino deputy's death described as career criminal, gang member

“This person needs to spend the rest of his life in prison.”
— District Attorney Mike Ramos

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- The suspect in the fatal attack on a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy was described as a career criminal and gang member who has been in and out of the prison system for much of his adult life.

Suspect Alonzo Leron Smith, 30, is facing a charge of murder in the death of sheriff's Deputy Lawrence "Larry" Falce.

Smith has a history of arrests on his record, including two felony convictions, officials said.

"This person needs to spend the rest of his life in prison," said San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos.

Ramos was angry at changes to the law and court decisions that, he said, allowed the suspect to be on the street when he should have been in prison.

He said Smith was convicted of a felony in 2012, described as being a gang member committing street terrorism with use of a gun, that should have kept him in prison for 12 years.

But an appellate court later overturned the case, saying the law applied only if he was in the presence of a second gang member, when he was actually alone at the time of the crime.

Falce, 70, was off duty and driving his personal car when he was involved in a minor traffic accident around 10:50 a.m. Sunday at the intersection of Kendall Drive and University Parkway, sheriff's officials said.

The crash occurred when Falce slowed down and swerved to avoid several loose dogs running in the street. The suspect rear-ended his vehicle.

Surveillance footage, captured from a local business, shows Falce and the suspect outside of their vehicles. The suspect is then seen striking the deputy once. ABC7 has chosen not to include the part of the video that shows the fatal blow.

Surveillance video captured the moment a suspect punched a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy on New Year's Eve, fatally wounding the veteran lawman.

Falce was severely injured in the incident, which investigators described as a brutal attack, and he died Tuesday night.

The suspect involved in the fight fled the scene. A Good Samaritan attempted a PIT maneuver on his vehicle to keep him at the scene, but he was still able to flee. Investigators were able to identify a suspect and arrested Smith hours after the incident while he was at his girlfriend's home.

Smith was arraigned Wednesday morning and pleaded not guilty. He faces a charge of murder and other charges related to prior felony convictions.

A San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy has died after being assaulted while off-duty following a traffic collision, officials said Tuesday.
Falce's sister, Marjorie, described her brother as selfless, one-of-a-kind and a man who treated everybody with respect.

"Luckily, my son and I were able to come, and we were visiting with my brother last week for the holidays and spent Christmas here, and to have this happen is a loss for sure, but to see the honor that they've bestowed upon him this evening and how the department has treated him is beyond anything I ever imagined," she said.

Falce had been with the department for 36 years and worked patrol at Central Station for the past 32 years. Before joining the department, he served in the U.S. Army. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War.

He joined the force in 1981 and was the oldest sworn member of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

A procession to honor the deputy and accompany his body from Loma Linda Hospital to the coroner's office was held Tuesday night.

Fellow deputies made a line from the hospital to the coroner's van and stood solemnly as Falce's body was wheeled out in a coffin draped with the American flag. The procession moved slowly through surface streets to the San Bernardino County coroner's office.

The Sheriff's Employees Benefits Association stated on Facebook that it would pay for Falce's funeral.

Falce is survived by his sister and his longtime girlfriend, Deborah, sheriff's officials said.

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IN THE COMMUNITY: Boys & Girls Club

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Thank you Boys & Girls Club for making me a part of your Fall Publication. Your club led me to a career in public service. The more we can do on the front end in terms of prevention and intervention, the better we're going to be in San Bernardino County. We have been working on something big this past year, and I'm looking forward to sharing soon. Click here to read the full interview and publication.

IN THE NEWS: Supervisors speak on economic growth at State of the County address in Victorville

 Photo by James Quigg

Photo by James Quigg

VICTORVILLE — A packed program featuring a host of San Bernardino County dignitaries brought High Desert businesses and organizations together for the State of the County address Wednesday morning.

Hosted at the Hilton Garden Inn, the Board of Supervisors — led by Chairman Robert Lovingood and with the exception of 3rd District Supervisor James Ramos, who was absent — kicked off the address with noteworthy updates from their respective districts.

This year, the county will see close to $100 million in restitution from welfare fraud busts, according to District Attorney Michael Ramos.

We have a lot of people in our county on welfare, and a ton of them are cheating. And I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of it ... We said enough already.
— District Attorney Michael Ramos

 

More than 100 have been arrested through welfare fraud sweeps, Ramos said, but even an greater effort has gone toward gang sweeps in the county. Since 2005, when the county’s gang unit was increased to fight back against transitory gang activity in the region, more than 11,000 cases have been filed with the District Attorney, Ramos said.

Wednesday’s event was the fifth annual State of the County, Lovingood said in his send-off, asking local leaders to return next year.

“The best opportunities are in front of us,” Lovingood said. “We have the challenges, but we continue together.”

Click here to read the full story.

DAILY PRESS EDITORIAL BOARD: Making progress in the crime fight

By The Daily Press Editorial Board

Posted Sep 6, 2017 at 3:00 PM Updated at 9:38 AM

Just when you think the battle to stop criminals can’t be won, a story emerges that provides hope.

Such was the case Wednesday at the Victor Valley Chamber of Commerce’s State of the County event at the Hilton Garden Inn in Victorville.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos revealed to the several hundred in attendance that his office has orchestrated the arrest of nearly 100 welfare fraud criminals since First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood provided the DA’s office with some funding to attack the problem head-on.

Ramos said some of those arrested even were seen going into casinos with their welfare cards! No doubt they were spending hard-earned taxpayer dollars trying to make an even bigger score than they already had made by virtue of cheating the system.

Talk about the good news story of the day. We hope Ramos’ prosecutors seek the harshest possible sentences for these criminals.

He also noted that the DA’s office will be seeking restitution that could approach $100 million!

Ramos wasn’t the only law enforcement official who announced some good news at the Chamber meeting. San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said deputies have been working on a Desert Guardian sweep for the past eight weeks and in just the last 16 days have made nearly 500 arrests.

That should make our High Desert communities and streets much safer in the coming weeks and months. And McMahon pledged to keep the pressure on criminals throughout our region.

He said thanks to $1 million from the Board of Supervisors, he is putting together a team of deputies that will spend the next nine months targeting the “worst of the worst” criminals in our desert.

McMahon’s aim is to get them off the streets and welcome them to a new home — bars included at no extra charge.

It’s been a tough year for violent crime in our region, but neither McMahon nor Ramos — or Lovingood, for that matter — plans to throw in the towel and give up. No, our county leaders have pledged to stay on the offensive and go after gang members and other thugs walking our streets.

They also want to reach out to youngsters in school and provide programs that will help them steer clear of the gangs and bad crowds that would be so happy to pull them into a life of crime.

With the help of our educators — and wouldn’t more like Teacher of the Year Melissa Edwards of the Victor Elementary district be wonderful? — we can provide youngsters with hope and a vision for a better life than they may know now.

If we all work together, we can change our world. We will change our world.