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The Buckhorn

Copyright (c) 2010
Winters Express
312 Railroad Avenue, Winters, CA 95694
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Police chief
credits officers
in murder case


By LINDSEY HICKMAN
Staff writer
Following the conviction of William Gardner III for the Winters murder of Leslie Pinkston, the Winters Police have finally had a chance to evaluate their performances during the chain of events throughout the case. At the Dec. 2 city council meeting, Chief of Police Sergio Gutierrez gave a detailed presentation of the hard work and dedication put forth by local law enforcement officers and the supporting agencies.
“Many details of the who-what-where-why-things have been explained by the news media, however, unlike CSI television shows that are able to solve a case in one hour, there is a lot more behind the scenes work that goes into catching a murder suspect,” explained Gutierrez.
“The staff are the backbone of our organization,” he continued, “Larger agencies can say their patrol is their backbone, that is supplemented by their investigations department; But in a small town like ours, our officers are our investigation officers, they do interviews, handle evidence, and so on.”
“It’s a ‘you catch and you clean’um’ way of working around here, and the bigger the fish the more people you need to get it clean,” the chief said, “Our officers handle these cases from beginning to end based on what we invest in their skills. We have a lot of basic training, but we also send our staff to many specialized trainings.”
Gutierrez explained that Corporal Ramos was the first officer on scene, and presented a 30-second recording of the unit’s dash camera video as he pulled up behind the SUV where the victim had been shot. As the council and audience watched what Ramos saw driving through town, the chief narrated what might be going through an officer’s mind as he approaches a scene.
“We have to be able to act in an instant, zero to one thousand, stay calm and preserve evidence,” he explained, “Corporal Ramos did an outstanding job that day and throughout the investigation.”
The chief commended all of the police officers, as well as, Winters Public Works and Fire Department for their dutiful work on scene that day.
“We had the good fortune of having the US Marshals come out to help out within 24 hours, and the surrounding Sheriffs’ and police departments provided outstanding support as part of our team,” he said.
“Gail Jiminez is owed one huge acknowledgment for her hard and efficient work as our property and evidence manager,” he said. “She is a rock star, and Officer Gordon Brown did a terrific job when he testified on behalf of the victim following the previous stalking and abuse charges.”
“In car cameras and continued specialized training are big important investments because these are situations that we must be prepared for. Our officers and our staff are very dedicated to this community, and I am extremely proud of our staff. They do an excellent job and I want to applaud them. We also appreciate the support of the city staff,” he said.
“Chief, I know that all of the force does a lot of hard work, a lot of times training for things you hope you never have to use, and in this case you unfortunately had to and did a great job — and we appreciate everything everyone did,” said council member Woody Fridae.
City Manager John Donlevy also expressed his gratitude for the Winters Police Department, agreeing that supporting officer training is a top priority for the City.
“The president came out yesterday and said that all police need microphones and body cameras for their own safety — we have already made those investments because we believe in them,” he said proudly, “Our organization is based on the values of always improving ourselves. That conviction was built based on the foundation our staff built.”
“There are three things police officers cannot do, we can’t read minds, can’t predict the future, and can’t see through objects- if we could we could prevent all crimes,” Gutierrez summarized at the end of his presentation, “What they have to apply is common sense, instinct, and training to try to come close to those things.”
Mayor Cecilia Aguiar-Curry concluded the item with a final acknowledgement of appreciation.
“I spoke with Leslie’s mom a couple of weeks ago and she said she is very pleased with the police department’s work,” she said, “Now, she can only ask that everyone involved can move forward and begin to heal.”
Other items
~ The council authorized the Blue Mountain Terrace to submit their grant application for $2 million in funding for infrastructure at the proposed new senior housing complex. Spokespeople from the project expect to know if grant funding is approved by March 2015.
~ Resident George Duncan, spoke during open comments, expressing his frustration with the city services billing. Currently, the city policy is that if one unit of water was used, the city can bill for the entire month of services.
~ The council approved a contract extension for a recycled water use permit with Tully and Young Inc. for up to $20,000 in flexible spending, following last year’s 25-million gallons of recycled water that was sent to Martinez orchards that did not have to come out of the ground. PG&E click button on the City’s website for updated project information.
~ Ricky Castro, born and raised in Winters, has been hired full time after being a seasonal public works employee.
~ The council authorized the purchase of a new, $34,000 tractor, budgeted for the Public Works Department.
~ Dollar General will have a mid-January opening
~ The state released its financial health assessments last week, reporting that Winters is the 374th least likely city to file bankruptcy in California, scoring better than Davis, according to City Manager Donlevy.
~ Potter and Ireland Streets have been formed in the Hudson Ogando project.