Chief Stainbrook Reassures Beverly Hills at Rotary Address

Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook delivered a well-timed address to the Beverly Hills Rotary Club on Aug. 15. In addition to a highly publicized burglary at Neiman Marcus over the weekend, it is also back to school week in Beverly Hills. Stainbrook spoke of recent technological advances in the department that will aid in the efforts to keep the city safe. (That same evening, a shooting on Canon Drive also made headlines.)

Stainbrook was introduced at the Rotary luncheon by Councilmember Sharona Nazarian, who outlined his impressive list of accomplishments prior to taking the helm atthe Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD). Those achievements include a highly decorated three decades in the military and the recent honor as the San Diego County Law Enforcement “Official of the Year.”

After accepting his Rotary Club flag from President JR Dzubak, Stainbrook spoke with humor, humility, and honesty, with his background as a family man shining through.

He acknowledged the day as the start of the school year, emphasizing the need for a good working relationship between the BHPD and the schools. He noted the addition of another resource officer to the schools and expressed hope for more in the future.

Of course, the news of the weekend’s Neiman Marcus break-in was top of mind for many.

Stainbrook was at the ready, posing the question, “What was in the news this weekend? What’s got your attention?”

After eliciting the audience’s response, he offered up his thoughts.

“Listen, this stuff is going to happen. And we’re not happy about it.

The officers are doing the right thing. They are going out and arresting the criminals. The bad news is, they get out of jail, within a day or two. We can’t keep arresting the same people over and over again and not get any help from the DA, the court system, and the state.”

The positive news is that he believes there is a good chance for arrests because of the outstanding technology around the city. He is using DNA evidence left at the scene to “catch the bad guys.”

Stainbrook hit hard on his main message. “The Beverly Hills Police Department will never stop investigating or going after these criminals until we get an arrest…It doesn’t matter where they are in the world, the BHPD will travel to make arrests for the crimes committed in Beverly Hills.”

He added that Beverly Hills has the lowest crime rate in comparison to the cities surrounding it, “although we are not an Island.” His message to criminals is, “don’t come here because we will arrest you.”

Stainbrook expressed appreciation to the City Council, for their strong support of the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to recall Los Angeles District Attorney George Gasco?n. He also took time to explain the advances in crime-fighting technology at the disposal of the department.

Real Time Watch Center

In operation around the clock, seven days a week, 2,000 cameras are monitored by two independent security companies who coordinate with security guards and officers in the field.

“It looks like something out of ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Star Wars,'” said Stainbrook.

The Real Time Watch Center technology will enable security forces to get the information out to the officers faster, as well as to use the information to help in arrests. The new technology also allows judges to actually see the crime, which will provide a boost within the judicial system. Stainbrook cited a recent example of a judge remanding an assailant into custody thanks to the city’s video technology.

BHPD Drone

Another important tool Stainbrook touted is the law enforcement drone, which is capable of operating 10 hours per day, seven days a week. Now only does the drone cover the center of the city, in a few months Stainbrook believes its reach will expand to approximately 85 percent of Beverly Hills. In essence, the drone acts like the city’s helicopter, “equivalent to 10 officers when it’s up,” said Stainbrook.

Automated License Plate Readers

The BHPD is also effectively utilizing Automized License Plate Reader technology. Stainbrook acknowledged news reports that criminal gangs are targeting Beverly Hills. They steal cars, switch plates with other cars, or cover the plates “as they did in the Neiman Marcus case,” and come into the city with an intent to rob or burglarize. The hope is that the BHPD can stop the criminals before they commit the crime, as the license plate readers provide a “heads up.” The readers are deployed throughout the city, including on Rodeo Drive, and Stainbrook hopes to have them at schools, businesses and hotels in the future.

“What makes the news is Neiman Marcus, but what doesn’t make the news is the crime that never happened,” said Stainbrook, who listed several examples to illustrate his point.

At one point he made a joke about armed assailants who “weren’t here to take a picture by the fountain.” When everyone laughed, he deadpanned, “I’m kind of funny. You’ve got to catch it though, between all the other stuff.”

Stainbrook also noted that other agencies, such as Anaheim, LAPD and Pasadena, have recently come into Beverly Hills to observe the city’s methodologies.

“These cities know if a suspect came through Beverly Hills, we have them on camera,” he said.

Although traditionally summer is a time when crime tends to spike, that hasn’t been the case in Beverly Hills. He does see laws passed in the last 10 years as a main factor in the rise in crime overall.

Stainbrook said he’s a big believer in rehabilitation verses incarceration.

“However, you have to have a support system behind these laws, to change the criminal system in California. We need to come back to some central position on criminal justice.”

Another issue Stainbrook touched upon was recruitment for the department. He said that recruiting standards have not changed but the applicant pool has shrunk considerably. There is also a big turnover from retirements.

This is where the private security firms come in, he said. They are similarly well trained; some by experienced former LAPD officers that Stainbrook has worked with. He explained that private security forces monitor prime hot spots in the city. They use police officers in areas “only officers can handle.” It takes two years to hire and train and field an officer… and not all of them make it through the program,” said Stainbrook. In contrast, private security can be retained and moved from place to place on an expedited basis. He appreciates the support of the City Council in making Beverly Hills a leader in community safety.

Aided by the technology that is essential for effective policing, Stainbrook concluded that compared to other departments, “We’re doing pretty good.”