Grandview Police Chief David Charvet speaking to Sunnyside Republican Club
The Sunnyside Republican Club heard Grandview Police Chief David Charvet and Sunnyside Council Member Don Vlieger address political and law enforcement issues ranging from controlling birds in area orchards, to controlling nuisance behaviors of gangs.
Chief Charvet spoke to the issue of “Bird Bombs” which has been the subject of some recent media coverage. Local orchards use these and other devices to scare away birds from their fruit trees. ”Bird Bangers” is another name for them. Charvet said that propane powered noise makers are another method commonly used.
The bird bombs have been in the news because agents of the federal government have started enforcing regulations that require background checks and other controls related to their usage. Charvet said as a law enforcement officer, he has never responded to a situation where these devices are used in a crime, and personally did not see the need for these new regulations.
He pointed out that other similar explosives are available, without these regulatory controls, in the form of flare guns, shotgun blanks, and even regular shotgun ammunition loads. Charvet also pointed out that background checks are not required to purchase rifle or pistol ammunition either.
A "Bird Bomb" explosive noise maker subject to new federal enforcement and regulations.
I asked if explosives by model rocket hobbyists were subject to these type of restrictions, and again Charvet said they were not. Some other comments in the room expressed concern about the government spending its resources enforcing these types of regulations, while public safety is being jeopardized by dangerous criminal gangs in our area.
While speaking, Chief Charvet passed around “Bird Bomb” explosive charges for the audience to see and handle. Charvet said he had absolutely no concerns about anyone being harmed by handling the small explosives, which are little larger than a firecracker.
Following Chief Charvet’s presentation, Sunnyside Council Member Don Vlieger addressed the topic of gangs in our community.
Don Vlieger said that he did not distinguish between “wannabe” gang members and “actual” gang members. He compared it to someone who steals a TV from a person’s home. ”Are they a burglar or not?”, he asked.
Vlieger said that if they are committing acts of a gang member, then are a gang member. However, Vlieger did say that there are different levels of gang involvement.
Drawing from his background in gang prevention while a deputy for the Los Angeles County Sheriff, and his experience working with school districts as a gang prevention officer and nationally travelled seminar speaker on this topic, Vlieger spoke of the hundreds of troubled kids he has counseled.
His counseling experience covers both Washington and California.
“Poverty does not cause gangs. Most people in poverty are not in gangs” said Vlieger.
He continued, “A nest does not produce eggs, although it might provide an environment where they can be nurtered.”
Vlieger said that some kids think it is “fun” to be in a gang, adding that mainstream middle class values can not be used to relate to this alternative culture.
“Going to jail for some of these kids means that they have better food, better healthcare, and that they will be surrounded by friends they already know. Most of us in this room would not have friends there, and would not be a good time for us,” said Vlieger.
Speaking of the Sunnyside Police Department’s proposed Gang Elimination Plan, Vlieger said “The police have a plan to deny sanctuary and support to gangs.” He said that to be successful, the city must create pressure while also providing opportunity. With police providing suppression efforts and increasing the pressure on gang members, they will have more incentive to seek help from Sunnyside’s Promise, he said.
Council Member Don Vlieger addresses the Sunnyside Republican Club while Council Member Theresa Hancock sits nearby.
A question was asked about why the Sunnyside Council was not strongly supporting the plan proposed by police. Sunnyside Council Member Theresa Hancock, who was also in the audience, spoke up and said she is opposed to the idea of notifying employers if they had gang members on their payroll.
“While they are at work, they are not committing crimes”, said Hancock.
Vlieger countered, “If an employer has a child molester or an Al Qaeda member at their business, they have a right to know that. The same is true for gang members. We would be negligent if we did not tell them.”