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The Signpost Newsletter

Second Quarter 2018

What's in it For Me? (continued from page 2)


I was once called out by my Chief Ranger for not wearing my flat hat. I was shoveling manure! After I pointed out what I was doing, he said, "someone needing help might see you shoveling manure." It was a point taken. My old Yosemite boss used to say that in a park a Ranger is everything to everybody. The public expects you to know what that flower is, and to keep the park and the people safe.  Part of the CSPRA code is to accept the moral responsibility for the safety and well-being of the park visitor. Also, to develop working relationships also with support groups in allied professions and citizen groups.  Professional organizations can help you do that.


Professional organizations promote a unifying voice for what we do and what we believe in.  A lot of true professionals pay for their memberships because of that one thing.  Organizations like PRAC promote the future of the profession by inspiring young people to become like you. PRAC has a couple scholarships that we have trouble giving away. There is something wrong with that.  Certainly, programs like West Valley College, and Santa Rosa C.C. or Chico State have students who need some help in affording school.


Professional organizations offer a method for people in the profession to communicate and to pass on ideas and ideals. It is why we have the Signpost. It is now on the web, so everyone can read it. Share it with non-members. Maybe even send it to agency directors so we might get their support for what PRAC is and not a threat to how they do things.  Agency support is a real big issue.


Right now PRAC has some membership problems not only with the numbers but also with people willing to take the time to contribute to the cause, like even forgetting to vote. Jeff Price revealed to me that only 32 of our 139 members even voted in this past election. A process that took only 20 seconds! Contributing has always been an issue, as it has been proven that only about 15% of any organization ever volunteers to help with anything. There are always doers and then "just members."  Not wanting to take the time to volunteer is often the excuse that is heard the most.  Not willing to take the time and a passion for what we do is the real issue.


Thanks to an old Scoutmaster I had, Doc Hyde, who put a finger in front of my nose and said, "You like this organization?  If you like it because of what you are getting out of it, you should be willing to take the time to give something back for what you take away." Thanks to Doc, that became what I am and deeply embedded in what I believe in. Am I saying that you are not a professional by not giving back?

                                                                                      (continued on Page 5)

California Legal Update

Consensual Encounters vs. Detentions


Article by Robert Phillips, submitted by Pam Helmke. These legal updates are prepared as an ongoing service to the law enforcement community by retired Deputy District Attorney Robert Phillips, formerly of the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.


Patdowns for Weapons

People v. Parrott (Apr. 4, 2017) 10 Cal.App.5th 485 Rule: Asking a person (1) to keep his hands away from a suspicious bulge in the person’s sweatshirt, (2) for his identity, and (3) to move to a sidewalk, do not necessary, absent a “show of authority,” convert a consensual encounter into a detention. A patdown for weapons is supported by sufficient reasonable suspicion when the person nervously and continually touches a heavy bulge in his sweatshirt pocket and then physically resists handcuffing during a detention.


Facts: Defendant had a thing for carrying guns. Unfortunately for him, a prior felony conviction prevented him from lawfully doing so. Not to be deterred by such a minor problem, defendant took his pistol with him on February 9, 2015, while driving around Eureka, California, only to have his car stall at the intersection of Pine St. and Wabash Ave.















Two Eureka police officers — Officers Harkness and Slotow—observed defendant’s stalled car, without rear or brake lights, roll backwards into the intersection. The officers watched defendant get out of the driver’s side of his car, push it to the side of the road, and open the hood. Upon contacting defendant, he told the officers he didn’t need any help.


Defendant was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, the front pocket of which noticeably bulged from some apparently heavy object. As defendant repeatedly touched the bulge in his sweatshirt pocket, the officers suspected that it might be a firearm.                 (continued on Page 7)