San Marino Police Department


By Maggie Lee
Special to the Tribune

Maggie Lee
Chinese Club of San Marino

Now is the time for San Marino to come together as a community and bring back the goodwill and unity to the city we love so much.
The Chinese Club of San Marino was founded more than 40 years ago as a support system for new immigrants to San Marino. Four decades later, sadly we are still dealing with many of the same issues we had in the past.
As an active member of the San Marino community, CCSM has donated millions of dollars to various organizations within the city through the years. We will continue to play an active role within the community to promote understanding, love and unity in San Marino.
Even with clean streets, manicured lawns and civic traditions, San Marino has not been immune to the global pandemic and the ensuing rise in hate, violence and aggression directed at the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Recent events and world issues have been divisive in nature, and as humans our first instinct is to look for answers often times by placing blame. The community is what makes San Marino special. The Chinese Club of San Marino asks everyone to rededicate themselves to the family values and community spirit to support each other through these times.
This past year has been extremely difficult on our Chinese American communities, and we have felt the weight of the pandemic across every area of our country. As we live through traumatic acts of hate, xenophobic rhetoric and violence, there is an even greater need for our diverse communities to come together to collectively address the challenges that we are facing. COVID-19 has posed issues for all of us. 

The San Marino Police Department added its latest entry to Southern California’s storied history of police chases this past weekend, when one of the city’s new license plate reader cameras picked up a vehicle allegedly used in prior crimes.
The automated license plate reader picked up the vehicle at 7:33 p.m. Saturday, after which a patrol officer was sent to pull over the driver. According to the San Marino Police Department, officers had pursued the same vehicle — a blue 2014 Jeep Patriot SUV — in a chase in recent weeks but eventually called it off because of poor road conditions.
“We’re picking up a lot of stolen cars” with the cameras, Police Chief John Incontro said. “We had seen the car in an earlier incident.”

Photo courtesy SMPD
In addition to a radar trailer, the San Marino Police Department now counts two of these radar signs among its speed enforcement arsenal.

The San Marino Police Department looks forward to keeping track of traffic issues more precisely with the help of two new portable radar signs, the use of which will begin this week in conjunction with a separate radar trailer.
While the larger trailer is used on bigger and more traveled streets, the department plans to use the signs — which can be attached to light poles — on smaller side streets in town.
“You can’t put them on some of the small side streets without them interfering with traffic,” Sgt. Tim Tebbetts said, referring to trailers. The portable signs “will connect to the city light poles or wherever the city dictates they go. They’ll be easy to move from street to street; we can move them to, say, Lorain Road for two weeks and then maybe Mill Road for another two weeks.”
The devices are part of the City Council’s broader priority initiative to ramp up enforcement against speeding and address other traffic issues in San Marino. Much like the radar trailer that was purchased last year, the two signs are primarily powered by solar panels and also use chargeable batteries with reserve power as a backup. The devices will showcase the speed of a vehicle as it approaches, flashing when the vehicle exceeds the posted limit and adding bright red and blue lights to the mix if the speed is extreme.

San Marino City Hall was fumigated during the Thanksgiving holiday period, while upgrades to local Police Department offices that were begun at the same time will continue for about a month, municipal officials said.
The tarps that are a familiar part of the fight against termites — and, in San Marino’s case, other pests as well — were assembled on Wednesday of last week and came down Saturday morning.

The City Council this week will consider maintenance and upgrades to the San Marino Police Department that, like much of the deferred care for municipal buildings, is likely long overdue.
The council is being asked to use up to $66,700 to fumigate the building to address termite infestation and to spend as much as $108,500 for an electrical infrastructure upgrade that will, among other benefits, allow the department to implement state-mandated updates to its 911 system. Both items include a 10% contingency fee to cover any unforeseen additions to the bill.

This new speed radar will replace the 25-year-old device at the San Marino Police Department.

The San Marino Police Department has a new officer, of sorts, whose job is telling you when you’re driving too fast on the city’s picturesque roadways.
That “officer” is called a speed awareness monitor, and you’ll start seeing it towering over passing vehicles along, say, Sierra Madre Boulevard or Huntington Drive, where it will let motorists know if they should ease off the accelerator a bit while it also works on compiling traffic data for the city. Attached to a trailer, it can easily be towed around town as needed.
“We can’t be everywhere at once,” explained SMPD Sgt. Tim Tebbetts, “and hopefully this will alert a driver who is innocently not paying attention.”
This new piece of equipment replaces a similar trailer that was around 25 years old, Tebbetts said. That older device was shorter, meaning traffic often blocked it from being viewed by drivers farther away from it, and its older battery system meant that it needed to be charged every day.
By contrast, the newer device, manufactured by Stalker Radar, boasts batteries that can power the system for up to three weeks on a single charge and also solar panels to charge those batteries.

The San Marino Police Department is continuing to investigate a case involving allegations of racist content and hate speech but reported there have been no new leads.
Police Chief John Incontro said Tuesday that the department received an anonymous tip last week by email, but that the activity described “did not rise to the level of a crime.”
“It would be great to speak with this person, but they have chosen not to speak with us,” said Incontro.
On Thursday, June 4, complainants contacted the SMPD and alleged that racist comments, videos and photographs had been posted on various social media platforms by a San Marino High School student and two SMHS graduates. Investigators began meeting with an individual who identifies himself as a “whistleblower,” a minor whom police will not publicly identify, Incontro said. The SMPD continues to meet with the individual and has also filed search warrants on records at the high school and various social media sites.
Though new information has been scarce, the San Marino school board addressed a related topic at its meeting on Tuesday, June 23. At a special meeting before its open session, the board discussed curriculum, instruction, professional development and training related to issues of racism, equity, implicit bias, diversity and inclusion that were the subject of two recent petitions. The petitions had been circulated through social media since George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis and allegations about the San Marino matter surfaced.

Blair Imani, a 2010 graduate of San Marino High School, has been active in challenging what she considers racist behavior at local schools and plans to meet with new SMHS Principal Jason Kurtenbach regarding recent claims of a such behavior involving former and current students.
Photo by Mitch Lehman / TRIBUNE

The San Marino Police Department on Tuesday afternoon said it continues to investigate a case in which four current and former San Marino High School students are suspected of producing or being in possession of racist content and hate speech, according to Police Chief John Incontro.
“We are trying to get more information,” said Incontro, “but at the time we are having a little trouble doing so.” With no one having stepped forward, “We have not yet contacted any victims, and without a victim we have no crime.”
Incontro told The Tribune that the SMPD on June 4 was made aware of possible racial comments, videos and photographs posted on various social media platforms.
“Immediately upon receiving this information, the Police Department initiated a criminal investigation,” said Incontro. “In order to establish the elements of a crime and a connection to acts of hate, it is imperative for the department to speak with victims.”
Investigators have met with an individual who identifies himself as a “whistleblower,” and uses an alias, Incontro said.“Since the investigation has started, we have contacted the whistleblower more than once in an attempt to gather additional information concerning possible crimes and identification of victims,” said Incontro. “Some of the possible victims are juveniles, and as required by law, we will not release any of that confidential information.”

The San Marino Police Department said it is “seriously investigating” allegations that four current or former San Marino High School students may have produced and been in possession of racist content and hate speech, according to Chief John Incontro.
Concurrently, officials at the San Marino Unified School District, its Board of Education and SMHS have received more than 1,000 signatures on a petition concerning the matter, according to C. Joseph Chang, the board’s president.
Incontro said he was made aware of what he called “potential racism and a potential hate crime” last week and immediately launched an investigation. The SMPD has spoken to the district attorney’s office about the matter and has also consulted with experts on the subject, including those with technological expertise, to help determine the validity of the evidence. He said that the investigation “could take quite awhile,” and the fact that it may involve juveniles as either potential suspects and/or possible victims makes it more challenging.

Police Officer Jesse Wang, left, is sworn in as an officer by San Marino City Clerk Eva Heter at a ceremony in City Hall on Thursday, December 26, 2019. Photo courtesy of the San Marino Police Department

The San Marino Police Department officially welcomed Police Officer Jesse Wang to the force during a swearing-in ceremony that was held at City Hall on Thursday, December 26.

Wang, a resident of Pasadena, is a graduate of Orange High School and the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied Psychology.

Hired on July 1, he graduated the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Academy on Friday, December 20 and will serve on modified duty with a field training officer for 18 weeks until going on patrol himself.

His first position in law enforcement, Wang ran his own business for a time before transitioning to public safety. He told The Tribune that he was drawn to San Marino for the style of community and how it interacts with the department.

“I like a community that appreciates law enforcement and it’s a place where you can be more detailed in your work and make a difference in the community,” said Wang.