Press Releases

Super Bowl DUI enforcement

Release Date/Time: 1/27/2015 2:57 PM
Incident: Super Bowl DUI enforcement
Report #: N/A
Date: Tuesday, 1/27/2015
Time: 2:54 PM
Location: Monterey and San Benito Counties

The Super Bowl is America's most watched national sporting event. On Super Bowl Sunday, February 1, there will be lots of game day socializing that may include drinking. That's why the California Office of Traffic Safety and police, Sheriffs, the CHP are urging football fans to choose sides now: drinking OR driving. If you plan on drinking on Super Bowl Sunday, designate a sober driver to get you home safely.

The Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk campaign encourages people to make plans ahead of time that will prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking. Driving impaired could result in injury or death for you or others on the road. The ‘Avoid the 20 – Monterey and San Benito Counties DUI Task Force' will be deploying Roving DUI Saturation Patrols during and following Sunday's Super Bowl matchup. Officers will deploy into communities where collision data reveals high incidents of DUI crashes and arrests.

According to data from NHTSA, in 2013 there were 867 people killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in California –29 percent of all crash fatalities in the state. A driver is considered alcohol-impaired with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, the legal limit. This February 1, don't become another tragic Super Bowl stat. 'Drunk driving is completely preventable,” said Sergeant Gerry Ross with the Salinas Police Department. 'All it takes is a little planning. We want fans to remember that it's a choice. Drink or drive—but never do both. This might be the most important choice you ever make.”

For those who plan to drink, leave your keys at home. Designate a sober driver, whether it's a friend, relative, taxi, or public transportation. For those who plan to drive, refrain from any alcohol. Instead, enjoy the game with food and non-alcoholic drinks. Being a sober, designated driver is a key role on Super Bowl Sunday. You might just save a life.

Avoid the 20 DUI Task Force funding is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that reminds everyone to ‘Report Drunk Drivers! Call 9-1-1.' OTS is offering a free mobile app – DDVIP – aimed at thanking the sober designated driver with perks and free offers at area bars and restaurants. Available for iPhone and Android. Never let friends drive if they have had too much to drink. Stay connected with OTS via: http://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaOTS, http://twitter.com/#!/OTS_CA, www.ots.ca.gov.

Release Authorized by: Gerard Ross
Telephone: (831) 758-7250

Car Jacking/ weapons arrest

Release Date/Time: 1/27/2015 1:36 PM
Incident: Car Jacking/ weapons arrest
Date: Monday, 1/26/2015
Time: 3:44 PM
Location: 700 Block of Elton Pl

At 0315 this morning,the victim) was carjacked at gunpoint by two suspects at E. Market and Pearl. He was forced to drive to into the unincorporated area just outside of town. The suspects let him out in the county and drove away in his vehicle.  A Salinas Police Officer spotted the stolen car parked in the 700 block of  Elton Place an began watching it.  Soon, two males approached and entered the vehicle and began to drive away.   The driver, Juan Rivera (25) saw the officer and immediately parked and ran holding a gun in his hand. The passenger, Ruben Martinez (19) stayed with the car. Multiple officers responded and eventually found Rivera hiding in a shed in the 100 block of N. Felice. He had discarded  the gun but it was later found. A small amount of narcotics and stolen property was found in the car.  The officers were able to determine both subjects were the same ones responsible for the carjacking the night before, both were lodged at MoCo Jail.

Release Authorized by: Stan Cooper, Commander
Telephone: (831) 758-7250

Attempted Murder

Release Date/Time: 1/27/2015 1:30 PM
Incident: Attempted Murder
Report #: 15-011311
Date: Monday, 1/26/2015
Time: 7:17 PM
Location: 1100 Block Delmonte Ave

Units responded to a report of a shooting victim and arrived to find the victim, a 20 year old male victim. The victim was working on a vehicle in the garage when he saw a  person near the garage door.  The suspect began to fire at him, with at least one round causing a non-life threatening injury.  The suspect fled on foot toward Towt St. It is unknown at this time if the shooting is associated with any gang.

Release Authorized by: Stan Cooper, Commander
Telephone: (831) 758-7250

Salinas Police Arrest Three for Cesar Gonzalez Homicide

Salinas Police Arrest Three for Cesar Gonzalez Homicide

Acting on crime tips, police have arrested three suspects in the fatal January 13 shooting of Cesar Gonzalez of Salinas.

Mr. Gonzalez was killed at his home at 627 Market Street late in the afternoon of the 13th. Witnesses described seeing a gray van with three occupants stop in front of the house. Shots were fired towards the house, whereupon the van sped away.

After receiving valuable leads, detectives have worked shifts of up to 20 hours with no days off, investigating the leads and associated physical evidence. Also on the case have been police Violence Suppression Officers, Monterey County Probation, State Parole and agents from the Monterey County STING Task Force.

On January 20, police arrested Jose Guadalupe Diaz, 18. On January 21, a 16-year-old juvenile was arrested, and today a 17-year-old juvenile was arrested.

All three suspects are Salinas residents. All were directly involved in the shooting and all three were booked for murder with gang enhancements. Diaz was booked into Monterey County Jail and the juveniles were booked into Monterey County Juvenile Hall.

The three suspects are involved in criminal street gang activities in Salinas and on the night of the shooting were driving through the neighborhood searching for rival gang members to shoot.

Salinas Police Investigators are still actively investigating this case and want to speak with anyone who may have information about it.

People with information can call Detective Gabe Gonzalez at 831-758-7127 or Detective Byron Gansen at 831-758-7137.  Those who want to remain anonymous can call the Salinas Police Department Anonymous Tip line at 831-775-4222 or the WeTip line at 1-800-78-CRIME.

People who call in anonymous tips are not asked for any identifying information and their calls cannot be traced.

These arrests follow the arrests of Figueroa Orlando Martinez (27) and Oscar Martin (20) on January 20, 2015 who are both criminal street gang members for possession of a loaded, sawed off, single shot shotgun in the area of North Sanborn Rd and E. Alisal St. Both suspects are known gang members and both were booked into Monterey County Jail on a variety of felonies and gang enhancements. Refer to press release dated January 20. Also the arrest of Jose Christian Regalado (18) on January 17th  for shooting a 13 year old boy on Santa Rita St.  Regalado was also a known gang member and booked at the Monterey County Jail for Attempted Murder and gang enhancements. Refer to press release dated January 21st

Media inquires should be directed to Commander Vincent Maiorana at 831-758-7350

Fatal Hit and Run update

Release Date/Time: 7/28/2014 2:53 PM
Incident: Fatal Hit and Run update
Report #: 14-070208
Date: Monday, 7/28/2014
Time: 2:43 PM
Location: Natividad Road and Los Coches

On July 5th at approximately 3am, Adrian Garcia, 27, was riding his bicycle through the crosswalk at Natividad Road and Los Coches Avenue when he was struck by a car and killed. The driver of the vehicle fled the scene. The investigation by Salinas PD traffic investigators has found that the car involved in this fatal hit and run collsion is a 2010 or newer white Ford Mustang. Investigators are asking for the public's help. If anyone knows of a 2010 or newer white Ford Mustang that was damaged on or near July 5th, or if anyone has any other information about this tragic incident, please call Officer Lek Livingston at (831) 758-7980 or Sergeant Gerry Ross at (831) 758-7975.

Release Authorized by: Gerard Ross
Telephone: (831) 758-7250

Frequently Asked Questions: Officer Involved Shootings in Salinas

First posted May 25, 2014. Updated Sept 5, 2014, 5:15 PM. (Español)

There have been four officer-involved shootings so far this year in Salinas, when the average is one per year. Many people have questions about the shootings, and we'll do our best to answer them here based on what we know so far. Please note that while the investigations go on, we can't speculate about conclusions, but we can offer information based on the evidence we have and based on police policies.

We'll be adding and updating questions and answers frequently, so please check back if you don't see what you're looking for yet, or if you have a suggestion, please contact us.

All of the people shot by police this year were Latinos. Are the police targeting Latinos?

Absolutely not. But we understand and acknowledge the emotions behind that question.

The Salinas Police Department has long followed strict policies against any form of social injustice. But as a community, Salinas, like much of America, has a painful history of discrimination against minorities. In our case it has often been Latinos who have suffered.

As a community we are still healing from that history – the process is not over.

But it is a fundamental principle for the Salinas Police Department that everyone, no matter what their background, must be treated with fairness and respect. Any police officer who violates this principle faces the strictest sanctions. If you're wondering why you should believe that, please see "Why should I believe you?" below.

Why have so many people been shot by police?

The four shootings by police officers this year are very unusual – in recent years the average for Salinas is one officer-involved shooting per year -- out of thousands of arrests and tens of thousands of contacts.

All the shootings are being very thoroughly investigated. When things happen in a cluster like this, it often looks like they must be connected – as in, "suddenly the police are shooting more people." But random clusters of events are common, and there is no evidence these shootings are connected.

If the shootings aren't connected, why did they all involve Latinos?

In Salinas, 77% of the population is Latino. That means that, all other things being equal, nearly 8 out of 10 of the small number of people who commit violent crimes would probably be Latino -- just because nearly 8 out of 10 people who do everything in Salinas are Latino. That includes all the good things, which are far more common.

In reality, more than 9 out 10 of the small number of people who commit violent crimes are Latino -- but not because they're Latino, of course. Mountains of research show that violent crime is more likely in underserved neighborhoods, meaning neighborhoods that suffer from poverty, lack of services and lack of opportunity. In Salinas, those neighborhoods are much more likely to be Latino. In other areas, it's other groups who live in underserved neighborhoods, and those neighborhoods also have higher crime rates.

In short, what we see in Salinas is that when police have contact with a violent person, that person is likely to be Latino, but that's because (a) everyone is likely to be Latino, and (b) violent crime is more common in underserved neighborhoods.

Why did Salinas Police ask the Monterey County District Attorney to handle the investigation of the July 10, 2014 officer-involved shooting of Frank Alvarado?

To get the best answers as fast as possible. Normally, the police department investigates officer-involved shootings and then the DA’s office reviews the investigation. But the police are occupied with other investigations, and this is the busiest time of the year. So to avoid delay, Chief Kelly McMillin asked the DA to take over this investigation from the start.

Why did the police officers shoot Frank Alvarado?

District Attorney Dean Flippo gave a press conference about the shooting the day after it happened and will continue to share information. Only the DA’s office can do that, because it’s their investigation. You can find widespread coverage in the local media, for example in this article from the Monterey Herald.

I read a story that says the Salinas police are guilty of "murders of innocent people" who were unarmed - what do you say to that?

A widely-shared story from AntiMedia.org radically re-interprets a responsibly reported story from ktvu.org. We hope you'll read our corrections, and compare the AntiMedia story to the ktvu.org story they re-interpreted. And if you've shared the AntiMedia story, we hope you'll share the corrections.

Why did the police shoot Carlos Mejia (the man with the shears seen in a cell phone video) when he was walking away from them?

They didn't. When you slow down and zoom in on the cell phone video, you see that the officers did not shoot Mr. Mejia when he was walking away, they shot him when he turned and attacked them with the shears. More context is added by a surveillance camera video as well as by a 911 call from a woman who said Mr. Mejia was trying to break into her house and assault her.

Police Chief Kelly McMillin took reporters through the videos and audio at a press conference on May 22, 2014.

  • See KSBW-TV's analysis of the cell phone video here.

Why didn't the police Tase Mr. Mejia?

They tried to, twice. The first officer fired his Taser, but it malfunctioned. Then the second officer fired his, but one of its contacts struck a telephone pole, which prevented it from having any effect.

Why didn't they shoot him in the arm or leg?

Although you see that happen on TV and in the movies, that's not what police are trained to do. When an armed person attacks, their first priority is to stop the threat to public safety as fast as possible. There are many cases of civilians and police being seriously injured or killed by armed, violent people who have been wounded. So police are trained to use enough force to stop the threat immediately.

Why did they shoot him more than once?

Once someone attacks, police are trained to stop the threat, both to themselves and members of the public. We can't at this point know exactly what the officers' judgment was, but it's common for police to shoot multiple times to stop a threat.

Why did they get close enough for him to attack them?

To stop a violent person with a weapon, police have to gain physical control of him, typically by putting him in handcuffs. They start by ordering the person to drop the weapon and surrender, and then need to get control of the person as soon as possible so they can prevent harm to members of the public.

Why did the police leave Mr. Mejia's body uncovered?

Police never cover a body before investigators arrive, because doing that would contaminate evidence. Instead, out of respect for the dead and in consideratiion of onlookers, they put up a visual barrier. That's what the police did in this case.

What is the police department's policy on use of force?

Please click here for a PDF of our use of force policy document.

Why did the police put up security cameras near the scene of the Mejia shooting?

Witnesses of the incident have reported they've been threatened and intimidated. The cameras are there temporarily to help with the investigation of the threats and intimidation and to help protect the witnesses.

Why have the cameras been taken down?

Two of them had stopped working (this is not uncommon -- we only have a few, and they're quite old), and the third was needed elsewhere.

Why should I believe you?

We expect to be held accountable by our actions, not just our words. Here are some of our actions:

After the recent shootings

  • We know that some people don't trust "cops investigating cops." We think if they could see how strict, thorough and impartial the internal investigations are, they'd change their minds. But because of the level of concern right now, Chief McMillin has asked for a total of three independent reviews of the police department's investigations. In addition to the standard review by the Monterey County District Attorney, Chief McMillin has asked for an additional review by the FBI and a third one by the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice.

Other actions

  • The Salinas Police and the City of Salinas are recognized nationally as leaders in reducing crime through a community-based strategy of prevention, intervention and re-entry services, working to reduce the need for enforcement. Salinas was invited to be a founding member of the President's National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, which is focused on community-based solutions to crime and on the recognition that "you can't arrest your way out of the problem."
  • Salinas is the leading agency in the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace, (CASP) which brings together community groups, social services, the faith community, local governments and law enforcement around the Prevention-Intervention-Enforcement-Re-entry (PIER) strategy. Even though Salinas is facing severe budget shortages, it dedicates a full-time staff member to serve as the manager of CASP and give it every possible support. The Police Department is also facing shortages, and is seriously under-staffed, but it has assigned two full-time "CASP officers" to the Hebbron Heights neighborhood of the Alisal. These officers, who have been recognized nationally for their work, make very few arrests, devoting almost all of their time to assisting members of the community and building connections among families, neighborhoods, community groups and service providers.
  • Chief McMillin has committed the police department to the legitimacy and procedural justice model of policing, which holds that true authority comes not from the use or fear of force but from the trust of the community. According to a recent KSBW-TV story: "The method recognizes that people want to feel heard, feel respected and want to know their police are neutral and trustworthy." The Salinas Police Department is the first on the West Coast to train all officers in legitimacy and procedural justice.
  • The Salinas Police Department is among the pioneers in using the Operation Ceasefire strategy, which has led to dramatic reductions in violence in cities across the country while improving relationships between police and the communities they serve. Operation Ceasefire's originator, David Kennedy, mentions the Salinas Police in his ground-breaking book Don't Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America.
  • Chief McMillin was recognized by the White House in 2012 as a Champion of Change. The recognition was for his work to prevent youth violence within the community through Operation Ceasefire and the CASP strategy.

Chief McMillin's response to the Monterey County District Attorney's findings in the Acuna shooting

Chief Kelly McMillin said, "Any use of deadly force by law enforcement is tragic for all parties involved; however, as is the case here, deadly force is sometimes necessary to protect the public from very dangerous people.  The Salinas Police Department is satisfied with the District Attorney's findings in this case."

Return of At Risk Missing Adult

Lucy Santa Chacon, 79, had walked away from her residence last night.  She was found safe at a care providers residence nearby several hours later. 

Pursuit, Possession of Firearm, Gang Enhancement

Release Date/Time: 1/21/2015 12:09 AM

Incident: Pursuit, Possession of Firearm, Gang Enhancement

Report #: 15-011000

Date: Tuesday, 1/20/2015

Time: 10:06 PM

Location: Alisal St / N. Sanborn Rd

Officers from the Salinas Police Department's Violence Suppression Unit attempted to stop Figueroa Orlando Martinez (27) and Oscar Martin (20) for a vehicle code violation. The suspect vehicle accelerated and led officers on a pursuit through east Salinas. Martinez and Martin jumped from the vehicle mid-block of Pacific Ave and fled into back yards. A loaded, sawed off, single shot shotgun was dropped by one of the suspects in front of the vehicle as the two ran. Officers located Martinez sitting at the rear of a residence as if he lived there. He was taken into custody and found to have a live shotgun round in his pocket. Martin was captured as he attempted to scale a fence. Both suspects are known gang members and both were booked into Monterey County Jail on a variety of felonies and gang enhancements.

 

Release Authorized by: Sheldon Bryan

Telephone: (831) 758-7250

At Risk Missing Person

UPDATE: Ms. Santa returned home and was found in good medical condition.

 

Salinas Police Deparment is asking the public for help in locating an at-risk missing adult, Lucy Chacon Santa, age 79. Ms. Santa walked away from her home in the 1300 block of Rhode Island this afternoon around 2pm. She has medical issues and walks with a limp. Ms. Santa took one-day's supply of medications and family are concerned. She left the home wearing purple sweat pants, a thick grey hoodie and black boots. Ms. Santa is said to have early on-set dementia and has walked away in the past. She was located near Foods Co. on E. Alisal and suffered a fall the last time this occurred. She also went missing in 2008 and was found in San Jose, which is where she is originally from. Family believes she may try to return to San Jose. If located, please contact the Salinas Police Department at 831-758-7321.

 

Pages