IT’S NEW YEARS EVE; SOME SAFETY REMINDERS FROM THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT

For many of us, wrapping up the year that was and ringing in the year ahead is a time to think about resolutions and to plan on some celebrating. The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department offers some tips to help assure a safe and happy new year free of any unexpected misfortune. Reporter Mike Lipsitz puts on his party hat …

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department advises … observe local ordinances prohibiting all fireworks in Morongo Basin. Don’t shoot firearms into the air. Remember, what goes up must come down. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you are drinking alcohol, arrange for a designated driver or call a taxi. Do not leave drinks unattended anywhere for any amount of time. Always maintain a fully charged cell phone in case of an emergency. If driving, allow ample travel times, stay alert, observe traffic laws, and be prepared for winter road conditions. And lastly, report suspicious activity. For emergencies call 911, and for non-emergencies call the Sheriff’s Department Desert Dispatch at 760-956-5001.

CHP ON MAXIMUM ENFORCEMENT FOR THE HOLIDAY

A lot of people will be traveling during the New Year’s holiday, which means the California Highway Patrol will be conducting a maximum enforcement period to help motorists arrive at their destinations safely. Reporter Andrew Dieleman has the details…

The CHP’s Maximum Enforcement Period will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, and will run through midnight Wednesday, January 1. All available officers will be out on the roads for enhanced enforcement efforts, focusing on impaired drivers, distracted drivers, and other infractions, such as not wearing seatbelts. During last year’s New Year’s weekend, 25 people were killed in traffic collisions in California, and the CHP made more than 1,100 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The CHP urges residents to make the right and responsible decision before getting behind the wheel and always designate a sober driver.

PART 5 OF OUR LOOK AT THE TOP STORIES OF 2019

In our fifth and final story reviewing the top stories of 2019, we start with an armed stand-off that topped the news November 19 in Morongo Valley. Deputies were called to Jacob Cato’s home near the Rod and Gun Club about 8:15 a.m. when a neighbor complained that Cato was shooting toward his house. Cato barricaded himself inside, and about 1:30 he walked outside and pointed a gun at deputies. Deputies shot and killed Jacob Cato.

November 30, a Yucca Valley man was killed in another armed stand-off with deputies. David Rodrigue was threatening to kill family members and himself in the 58100 block of Pimlico Street. Deputies were able to get the family members out, but in the early morning hours, Rodrigue killed himself inside the home.

And finally, the entire Morongo Basin was blanketed with snow December 26. Accumulations ranged from just a dusting to up to two feet of snow in the upper elevations of Joshua Tree National Park. The national park closed Thursday afternoon and Old Woman Springs Road was closed for hours due to high snowfall amounts.

NEW LAWS AFFECTING CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AND EDUCATION

Several new laws that take affect in 2020 will affect the criminal justice system and those who come in contact with it. Social workers and probation officers will be required to give children who are in foster care two weeks notice if the foster parents have requested a placement change. Adults who have survived sexual abuse as a child will be allowed to file a lawsuit up until they are 40 years old, or even later, if they can connect the abuse to a psychological injury or illness in the last five years. And as of January 1, private prisons and immigration detention centers will no longer be allowed to sign or renew contracts with the state. The goal is to abolish private prisons and detention centers by 2028. And employers, co-workers, and teachers who fear someone will harm themselves or others can get a restraining order for gun violence. This will allow law enforcement officers to take away a person’s guns.

Reporter Ernest Figueroa has more about new laws affecting education in California…

Dreamers—young, undocumented residents who were brought to the U.S. as children—who want to get a graduate degree from a public university in California will be eligible for student loans and in-state tuition. Parents can decide if their children can take medical marijuana on a school campus. Students must have a doctor’s prescription, and the marijuana can’t be stored on the school campus. 

TWO PEOPLE AND THEIR DOG ESCAPE SERIOUS INJURY IN ROLL-OVER CRASH MONDAY

Two people and their dog escaped serious injury when their car rolled over on the Yucca Grade Monday morning. Morongo Valley Deputy Fire Chief Jim Brakebill said just after 10:30 a.m., a man was driving his 2015 Toyota Prius eastbound on the highway when he started getting a headache. Next thing he knew, the car had gone off the road and landed upside down just west of the Hi-Desert Rod and Gun Club. Morongo Valley firefighters had to cut the seatbelts to get the driver and his wife out of the car. The driver was taken by Morongo Basin Ambulance to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs with scrapes and contusions; his wife was not injured. The dog was shaken up and friends took the dog to the vet to be checked out. The California Highway Patrol is investigating.