Southern California breaking news and trends

Fullerton considers dismantling police department and letting others police their streets

Joshua Sudock, Orange County Register, Pool photo

Fullerton may disband its police department. The department's been under fire since the death of Kelly Thomas. Here, Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas' father, speaks to the media after a judge ordered two Fullerton police officers to stand trial in the death of his son.

The Fullerton City Council Tuesday will decide whether to authorize a study looking into dismantling the city's police department. The study would look into options like consolidating policing in North Orange County and contracting with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Fullerton police came under heavy criticism after the beating death of Kelly Thomas last year. Three of the six officers involved in Thomas' death have since left the force.

But the move seems most motivated by finances: the 144-person department costs about $37 million a year to operate. More and more small cities are looking at their public safety services as financial liabilities, especially pension costs.

Another cost consideration with police departments is liability claims from car crashes, injuries, wrongful deaths and employment suits. Fullerton's liability costs were not immediately available.


The Great Tire Caper: Thieves hit Fullerton tire store, take $500,000 worth in two big rigs

Flickr Creative Commons

Lots of tires

Police say a well-organized band of thieves hit a tire store in Fullerton late Friday night and made off with ... tires. Lots and lots of tires. A half-million dollars’ worth of them.

In fact, it took masked gunmen, at least one truck and two big-rig trailers to pull off the heist -- and this gang was prepared, the Orange County Register reports.

“It was somebody who knew what they were doing,” Fullerton Police Department Lt. Robert Bastreri told the paper.

According to police, the robbers arrived just before midnight to Yokohama Tires, located at 601 South Acacia Ave., and caught two security guards by surprise, holding them at gunpoint.

It was unclear from the description exactly how they did it -- apparently the tires were already in trailers, just waiting to be hauled away -- but whatever the case the men backed trucks up to trailers and “simply drove away with the goods,” the Register reports.


Non-student knife fight a blemish on otherwise peaceful Underwear Run at CSU Fullerton

Fullerton Underwear Run Facebook page

A shot from the 2012 Underwear Run at Cal State Fullerton, held on campus May 17.

Last night’s 2012 Cal State Fullerton Underwear Run resulted in an estimated crowd of 4,500 people, lots of underwear-clad zaniness, some running, maybe a bit of drunkenness, a bloody knife fight and two arrests.

The unfortunate ending occurred just after midnight at a campus parking lot on Nutwood Avenue, the Orange County Register reports.

According to university police, the fight started when two men from La Habra pulled up to another group of men and started arguing with them. They then got out of the truck, pulled a knife and a fight ensued. The men in the truck were hurt, as were two others.

The two La Habra men, 20-year-old Armando Zermeno and 21-year-old Joseph Mercado, were disarmed by the other men before police arrived. They were taken to UCI Medical Center and treated, then booked at the Orange County Jail on assault charges, according to the Register.


CSU Fullerton student joins 12 others planning hunger strike to protest tuition hikes

CSU Broken Glass

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

Protests have occurred around the CSU system, like this one at CSU Long Beach in November 2011, but activists say they have had no effect.

A Cal State Fullerton student announced he is joining several others in holding a hunger strike to protest rising state college tuition.

Grad student David Minga said he had to do something more drastic in the face of dramatic cuts in state funding and subsequent increases to tuition, the Orange County Register reports. He said previous protests and demonstrations -- such as one a year ago where students camped out in the Fullerton administration building -- have had no effect.

Minga, 22, joins 12 other students from around the California State University system in starting their hunger strike Wednesday. He said he and fellow strikers have been preparing for this, and plan to drink only fluids until CSU trustees agree to meet to discuss the group’s demands.

Those demands include a five-year tuition freeze, pay cuts to CSU administrators and cuts to CSU presidents’ perks, such as their housing and car allowances.