Monday, April 16, 2007

Hand Wringing In Virginia

I was going to compose a long-winded post about the difficulties of securing a college campus with 26,000 students, but instead, I'll say only this.

Yesterday's shooting at Virginia Tech could happen at "Any University USA." Securing a sprawling campus from a gunman carrying two pistols is very hard, if not impossible. Even given a two hour headstart when you're being led by clues that tell you one thing, it's hard to devote the enormous resources required to shut down an entire university on the off chance that the gunman will show up across campus at carry out a massacre.

Nevertheless, it's likely the VT police chief's head will roll and maybe the school's president, too. But when I worked in the public safety sector in cities with big universities, even responding to the smallest emergency calls came with their own sense of chaos and disorder, if for no other reason than because colleges are almost always a swirling hive of activity.

An event like this could unfold exactly the same way tomorrow right in your own town...and it'd be just as hard to stop.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

More Wind = More Brushers

Some of the strongest winds this L.A. native has ever experienced here are raking the Basin right now. My modern office building is creaking and groaning; the wooden parking gate arm has snapped off and one very expensive home has burned to the ground in Beverly Hills on a gnarly hop-skipping brush fire going on right now around one of my favorite park areas.

Stepped out of my car in BH this afternoon during the windstorm and immediately smelled that brush fire smell. Quick secret call to the LAFD PIO confirmed they had one acre of brush going up on N. Beverly Drive. The fire straddled the border between LA City and Beverly Hills, a mutual-aid nightmare.

While eating, I saw the usual suspects LF92 and LF58 blast by going north on Beverly, as well as Battalion 18. Towards the end of the meal, E26 (stationed down at Arlington and the Santa Monica Freeway!!!) and E43 from Cheviot Hills/Palms heading up to the fire. After lunch couldn't see a good loom-up because the wind was blasting so hard but headed up to the area to see if it was still going.

Streets were closed and traffic was bad so I flipped a U and headed back to work as E47 came up Beverly from Sunset. By the time I got back to my desk and flipped on the Bearcat, they had Strike Teams staging up at Sunset and Beverly including a LACoFD unit based in Carson and entire Downey FD team! Crazy. Santa Monica Fire is in on it too under a Strike Team arrangement.

They got a handle on it but it's still windy as hell.