LANCASTER — Lancaster Sheriff’s Station’s first Coffee with a Captain event turned out to be a bit different from what was originally planned.
The virtual event was scheduled for 10 a.m., Friday, via Facebook and Capt. Todd Weber was supposed to host the event. However, Public Information Officer Ali Villalobos announced at the beginning of the event that, due to unforeseen circumstances, Weber would not be in attendance.
Instead, Sgt. Kinsella, the operations sergeant, along with Det. Reader, Det. Grijalva and school resource officer Deputy Guardado, offered some tips and answered the public’s questions.
Sgt. Kinsella started the event with some wellness tips.
“August is national wellness month, which focuses on self care, managing stress and promoting healthy decisions,” he said.
With the pandemic going on, a lot of residents are experiencing uncertainty right now, whether it’s having children at home doing distance learning, being on furlough or missing being able to visit family members because of quarantine.
Because of these issues, Kinsella offered some wellness tips to help not only the body, but also the mind.
“Increase your water intake, especially now that we’re experiencing triple digit temperatures,” he said. “Add fruits and vegetables to all meals, especially fresh veggies. Take a break from meetings. We’re experiencing a lot of screen time. It’s a good idea to take a break and walk around, step outside and get some sunshine and give your body and mind a break.”
Detective Reader was up next with some tips about storing property in storage facilities. He works in the Commercial Burglaries department of Lancaster Station.
“Renting a storage unit is a great way to reduce clutter and free up space, with an added sense of security,” Reader said.
However, he cautioned the public not to rely solely on storage security.
“Do not buy cheap locks,” Reader said. “Many rental offices sell locks, but some are very cheap. Make sure you invest a few dollars more on good, quality locks.”
He said the round storage locks are better than the kind with a key or combination because bolt cutters don’t work on them.
Reader also said it’s a good idea to check your storage unit often and don’t leave it unattended for weeks on end. Getting renters insurance is another way to protect your property in case of theft.
“Be a good neighbor and notify the rental office if you see anything wrong with other units,” he said.
He also said finding a storage facility that is well lit and has surveillance goes a long way in deterring theft. In addition, photographing your property and recording serial numbers will help deputies in recovering property in the event of a break-in.
Following Reader’s presentation, Grijalva answered some questions regarding the difference between theft and burglary and what happens to the mail when a mailbox gets broken into.
“If mail is recovered from the suspects, we will book it into Lancaster (Sheriff’s) Station and the handling deputy or detective will attempt to contact anyone they can and you can pick it up from Lancaster Station,” she said.
Guardado then spoke about what the new school year is looking like since children are doing distance learning.
Villalobos began the conversation by saying that because of distance learning, it’s likely that children are more exposed to social media and other things on the Internet, which could be problematic.
Guardado said the primary way to ensure children’s safety while using the Internet is to monitor their activity.
“They have access to so much stuff,” he said. “Do surprise visits while they’re online or if they’re on the couch. Pop in and be nosy, see what they’re doing, if they’re talking to someone, a kid or something, ask them who it is. Challenge them.”
He also said having access to their devices is important — and so is having their passwords.
“Go through their devices and check the history and deleted items,” Guardado said. “Certain apps on the Web will allow you to do other things a normal browser won’t.”
He cautioned parents to be aware of predators and make sure no one is trying to victimize your children.
“Cyberbullying is a big issue,” Guardado said. “Make sure you monitor that and talk to your kids … be involved as much as you can.”
He said if cyberbullying does occur, it’s best to screenshot the conversations and report it to a school administrator. They are available even though in-person learning is not taking place.
A member of the public asked what a parent should do if someone sends their child a “bad message.”
Villalobos said you must first define what constitutes a “bad message.”
“When we’re speaking about tween and teens, we start getting into the possibility of sending pictures,” she said. “It’s important for us to know that child porn goes both ways. Not just for the child who sent the picture, but if you have a 16-year-old boy and he gets a picture of an underage, unclothed girl, that’s still child porn.”
Kinsella said if something like that happens, the receiving party should contact the Sheriff’s Department and make sure the photo never gets forwarded to anyone, as that constitutes a bigger crime.
Just like the Palmdale station, the Lancaster station plans to hold regular Coffee with a Captain events. They urge those who are interested to follow them on Facebook to get updates and notices for future events.