Sunnyside Police: Gang Unit Now Active

Exclusive Audio Interview With Deputy Chief Phil Schenck

Deputy Chief Schenck Explains the Newly Activated Gang Unit

During last night’s meeting of the Sunnyside City Council, Deputy Police Chief Phil Schenck announced that the long discussed Gang Unit will be activated, and in the field today.  Following the meeting, I interviewed him in his office, and obtained his permission to release this audio recording:

Sunnyside's New Crime Analyst, Courtney Percival, Is Introduced To The City Council At Monday's Meeting.

Penny Wise And Pound Foolish Police Purchases

Sunnyside Council Can’t Afford To Skimp On Equipment and Police Personnel

Multiple officers are out of the patrol lineup for the City of Sunnyside pending an investigation into the recent police shooting of a gunman downtown.  The investigation is standard procedure when officers use deadly force, but is taking longer than it should.

Sunnyside Police have been asking for an increase in the number of officers for quite some time.  The City Council has been dragging out this request, only recently funding the creation of a gang task force.

Now more than ever, it is clear that we can not simply get by with the bare minimum number of police officers.  When an event such as the recent shooting occurs, unplanned absences of officers have an immediate negative impact on security in the city.

I wish to thank the majority of Council Members who voted to support the recent budget amendment request by the police, but am frustrated  with the lack of urgency with which they have approached solving this problem.

News reports quote the Washington State Patrol, who is running the investigation into the police shooting, as saying that it is taking longer for them to complete their work due to the lack of camera footage from the patrol cars.

Sunnyside Police tell me that none of the patrol cars have cameras, and that this is strictly the result of a budget decision.  The one exception to this is the recently purchased K-9 vehicle, which does have a camera system.  However, this vehicle was not involved in the recent shooting incident.

Despite repeated requests to outfit new patrol car purchases with a camera system, the Sunnyside Council has not approved funding that will allow the police to have these systems in their vehicles.

In my view, Council Members should make sure that ALL new patrol vehicles being purchased for the police have these camera systems installed.  The cost is approximately $5,000 for each vehicle.

With officers unnecessarily on administrative leave, the public is asking why they are not being given the resources to document their actions while on patrol.  These camera systems not only provide helpful evidence to prosecute bad guys, but can help remove any doubts that police officers are conducting themselves properly.  We owe it to our police department to give them the support they need, both in numbers of personnel, and in providing proper equipment for them to use.

Arrest Summary Reports For Sunnyside Police Department

The Sunnyside Police Department posts arrest summary reports on the city website.  Here are some from Saturday night that may be of interest to the community.

Editor’s Update 5/4/11:  After hearing security concerns from the Sunnyside Police Department, I have redacted some information from this post.  Although I am not under any requirement to do so, special circumstances moved me to make this decision.  More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Editor’s note: I have not spoken with anyone at the Sunnyside Police Department, or any other official with the city, regarding these incidents.  No conclusions should be drawn from these reports that only have summary information, and nothing more.  All suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

Arrest Time/Date:  23:13:13 04/30/11 Booking Number:  1825


Name Number:  3304 Birth Date:  01/24/88


Arrest Type:  CUST Arrested By:  ********** Agency:  SSPDMedia Arrest Summary for Sunnyside Police Department Page 3 of 8

rpjlasr.x7 05/03/11

Arrest Location:  sunnyside Arrest Number:  2322

Related Incidents:  11S03648

Time/Date Offense Area Statute Court Crime Class

23:13:52 04/30/11 ASSAULT 1 9A.36.011 SSC FA


Arrest Time/Date:  22:02:05 04/30/11 Booking Number:  1824


Name Number:  3934 Birth Date:  08/07/83


Arrest Type:  CUST Arrested By:  **********:  SSPD

Arrest Location:  sunnyside Arrest Number:  2320

Related Incidents:  11S03846

Time/Date Offense Area Statute Court Crime Class

**:**:** **/**/** ASSAULT 1 9A.36.011 SSC FA


Arrest Time/Date:  20:47:06 04/30/11 Booking Number:  1823

Inmate Name:  MARTINEZ, JOSE G

Name Number:  15558 Birth Date:  05/08/87

Address:  lincoln pl, MATTAWA, WA

Arrest Type:  CUST Arrested By:  ********** Agency:  SSPD

Arrest Location:  sunnyside Arrest Number:  2318

Related Incidents:  11S03843

Time/Date Offense Area Statute Court Crime Class

20:47:42 04/30/11 DISORDERLY CONDUCT SSC9.60.010 SSC M

Mayor Insulting A Man’s Professional Experience Is Uncalled For

Last night, at a Sunnyside City Council workshop, Mayor Restucci rudely belittled the work experience of a Council Member.  It happened during a discussion about recommendations from the Public Safety Committee to the City Council.  Pablo Garcia questioned the proposal to hire additional police officers.  Don Vlieger chimed in, and mentioned that he had seven years of experience in law enforcement working specifically with gang suppression.  Mr. Vlieger said that we need to strengthen the suppression side of enforcement at this time.

In this exchange, Mr. Vlieger argues for making suppression a bigger part of enforcement in Sunnyside, followed by the Mayor belittling his experience.

Mayor Restucci interjected and said “and when was that, about twenty years ago?”  Mr. Vlieger replied in the affirmative, and then Mr. Restucci sneered: “Well, I want to hear from our police chief.”

Listen to this clip which runs just under two minutes:

Mr. Vlieger was the subject of a Los Angeles Times newspaper story on May 11, 1989, entititled: ‘Deputy Don’ is the first to be assigned to full-time anti-gang counseling and policing duties on campuses of the ABC Unified School District.  A link to this article is at the bottom of this post.

I bring this up to point out that even though it might have been a few years ago, Mr. Vlieger was a pioneer in using both prevention and suppression in fighting gangs.  Mr. Restucci’s claim to fame is that he has voted to cut police officers, and prevention, while spending $500,000 of  money, not in the budget, for city attorneys in a single year.  His misguided attempt to belittle Mr. Vlieger is out of line for what the City Council calls a “workshop” that is meant to facilitate discussion of issues.

While Mr. Restucci may feel that the Sunnyside Police Department does not need more officers, he should not be denigrating the relevant work experience of one of his colleagues.  That was out of line, and I told the Mayor the same following the meeting.  He replied saying, “I am the Mayor, I chair the meetings, and I didn’t think we needed to hear any more from him.”

How Yakima County Deputies Can Give Sunnyside Police A Powerup

In the wake of a large number of Lower Valley shootings, I offered some suggestions to a city official on actions that could be taken to crack down on the gangs suspected of being responsible.  After each suggestion, I received the response: “We don’t have the manpower for that.”  I then offered a suggestion to solve the manpower issue that was so politically unpalatable that I did not get a response to that one.  It does not change my views on the actions I think the city should be taking, but I have some more ideas that are less drastic in nature to propose.

Sunnyside Police already have authority from City Council to hire and fill additional police officer positions, but have not filled all the vacant positions.  Meanwhile, Yakima County has severe budget problems that are prompting them to layoff deputies.  We are desperately short on law enforcement (in relation to our problem), and can not afford to lose deputies at this time.  After having coffee last week with some concerned citizens, an idea came to mind that I will share here:

This Yakima County Sheriff car was spotted in Sunnyside this past weekend.

The City of Sunnyside should buy a deputy.  Well, to put it in better terms, the city should enter into immediate negotiations with Yakima County to hire a deputy (or two) on a contract basis.  The precedents for this have already been set in a number of jurisdictions, where county deputies work under contract to do municipal police work.  Another example of contract law enforcement is how our own police department receives revenue from the Sunnyside School District for its School Resource Officers.

My proposal is to hire the county deputies, under contract, to work for the City of Sunnyside.  They will be based in Sunnyside, and answer to our Police Chief as an intermediate supervisor during the contract period.  Yakima County can provide the patrol car (which they have already purchased).  This will make it a financially attractive deal for the city as well.  The deputies will have job security, and can continue to accrue seniority and benefits under the County’s personnel system.

Another reason to do this is that new recruits take months to train, even after the significant time they spend in the Academy.  The deputies are already trained, have equipment they can bring to do the job, and can be put to immediate use in helping us fight crime in the Lower Valley.  As it stands now, there are typically only two deputies stationed east of Union Gap.  With this proposal, we can get two deputies just for our city!  The assistance to our local police (already using mandatory overtime at an alarming rate) would be invaluable.

The situation is spinning out of control, and a change in our municipal mindset is necessary.  The gangs are emboldened by the fact that they can run up and down valley roads committing drive-by shootings without being stopped.  We need to change tactics big time.  Just getting more manpower on station can at least offer some flexibility in our police patrols that is sorely lacking.  Let’s make it happen.

Let’s fill our vacant police positions NOW!

Let's get more cars out of the parking lot, and out on the roads.


Dumb Crook News: Man Tries To Steal Police Car In Richland, WA

RICHLAND — A Kennewick man was quickly surrounded when he was caught trying to steal a Richland police car from inside their secured parking lot.

Jeshua D. Dusek, 19, later told officers his theft attempt was to “bolster his reputation amongst gang members in Pasco,” said Richland police Sgt. Darryl Judge.

Read more from:

Graffiti Greets New Business In Sunnyside

At the start of this year, a business with locations in eight states opened up a brand new building in Sunnyside.  We are fortunate to have people come here to increase business commerce and jobs in our area.  Our city government also benefits from an expanded tax base.

However, there are some in this town that don’t seem to appreciate nice things.  The new building is a significant investment into our town, but has already been tagged with graffiti.

A brand new wall with a fresh coat of paint was too much to resist for some area thugs.

The actions of the people doing this give Sunnyside a bad name.  If we truly want to “rebrand” our town, as the new City Manager has suggested, we need to police our own actions.  This means that parents and children should not tolerate any friends or neighbors that commit acts of vandalism like this.

It is time to take our town back.  We can start by alerting the local police to incidents, so that law enforcement can take action.  This is especially important when acts of violence of being committed.  A number of murders are not being prosecuted because witnesses are not cooperating with police.

The cycle of violence and property damage will not stop until we stand up as a community against the ones that are doing this.  This is a battle we can win, and when we do, the climate will be more inviting for businesses and individuals to invest and build here.