Hueneme Party Police Say, 'This Bill's for You'

Wanna play? Be prepared to pay, say Port Hueneme police.

Following the lead of several county law enforcement agencies, the Hueneme heat recently started charging people for police services when officers have to respond more than once to a rowdy party.

The first time officers show up to handle loud music or large crowds spilling onto residential streets they don't leave before handing the hosts a "police party card," which is a slip of paper warning them that they will be billed for a follow-up visit.

The cost right now is prorated per minute according to the hourly salary of each officer that responds. For example, if two cops roll and spend 30 minutes shutting down a soiree, the fee will run about $40.

Officials plan to hike the price soon to meet the demands of spring break and summer.

So far, two warnings have been issued in the last few weeks, and one of those required a second visit and resulted in a fine.

"We spend a majority of our time on some shifts breaking up parties and it really taxes our resources," said Cmdr. Jerry Beck. "I mean we should be out looking for drunk drivers and handling robberies and burglaries."

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Here's a warning to fellow lead-foots: Slow it down because the red eye has arrived.

For the first time ever as a regular practice, California Highway Patrol officers are using radar on the Ventura Freeway between Ventura and La Conchita and on California 33 between the 101 interchange and Casitas Vista.

Until now, officers caught speeders on those stretches by visually estimating a driver's speed, or by "pacing," a practice that allows an officer to speed and nab whoever's dumb enough to keep up.

Radar guns weren't employed because such equipment was supplied by the county, which gets all the revenue from CHP-issued tickets and requested that officers use the guns on roads where studies had shown there were lots of speeders. Officials said the studies didn't include the 101 and 33.

Well, the state has started its own radar enforcement program and returned the county-issued equipment.

Now, all 26 patrol cars in the local CHP fleet are equipped with new radar guns, which are being used in full force on the highways, said Officer Dave Webb.

"We're still going to use our eyes and do pacing, but this will be another tool to augment current enforcement techniques," Webb said.

Realizing change is difficult for the state's drivers, there will be a grace period. Any borderline cases, say someone doing 69 mph on the posted 65 mph Ventura Freeway, will only get a verbal warning through April 30.

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Maybe the Oscars inspired this trio . . .

Sheriff's deputies responded a week ago to a call of three men dressed as women who entered a ladies undergarment store at the Camarillo outlet mall and stole some bras.

Employees at the Olga Warner shop called the theft in shortly before 2 p.m., but when the cops arrived the perpetrators were nowhere to be found and no evidence was found at the store.

"I don't remember ever getting called out for something like this," Senior Deputy Jim Aguirre said. "Sometimes you just can't explain human behavior."

A day earlier on the televised Academy Awards, two men nominated in a song category arrived as a joke in floor-length gowns. One wore a number with a plunging neckline that exposed a hairy chest--but no bra.

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To fill a batch of openings expected during the next few years and as a way to give kids interested in law enforcement a chance to get started now, the local CHP office has created its own Explorer program.

So far, nine boys and girls Ventura, Channel Islands, Buena, Camarillo and Thousand Oaks high schools have applied, but a dozen more spots are available.

An applicant must be between the ages of 16 and 20 and have good references and a clean record.

Although there are many fun aspects to the program--ride-alongs, a cool uniform, competitions and the chance to work with officers on major cases--the gig is also rigorous.

There are background checks, physical and written tests, classes, shooting practice and up to three weeks of out-of-town training.

For those who sign up, the payoffs can be big.

Schools offer credit toward graduation in exchange for participating, and the program is recognized for credit by the Boy Scouts of America. And, young adults interested in law enforcement get a chance to see it up close and decide if it's for them.

For those who want to be cops, being an Explorer is great resume material.

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Holly J. Wolcott can be reached at 653-7581 or at holly.wolcott@latimes.com

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