Thu05052016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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County sheriff Smith reviews long career, touts public-safety record


Smith

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith has witnessed dramatic changes among female law enforcement officers over her more than 40-year career, an evolution she chronicled at a recent Rotary Club of Los Altos appearance.

Now seeking her fifth term in office, Smith, the first female sheriff in California, oversees 1,400 sworn officers and an annual budget of approximately $340 million. The California State Assembly named Smith its 2012 Woman of the Year.

In the 1970s, when sworn in at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, Smith’s title was “matron,” because women were not allowed to serve as deputies at that time. She displayed for the Rotarians her outdated green uniform skirt and purse, complete with gun holster and handcuff pockets. In time, Smith said, the “ladies of the law” uniforms changed from skirts to pants, and their salaries rose from a rate that was 15 percent lower than male deputies’ pay.

She gave a nod to the early female deputies whose 1975 lawsuit and subsequent ruling from the Supreme Court reclassified them as “sheriff’s deputies” rather than “matrons.”

Quoting the law enforcement textbook she used while studying at San Jose State University, Smith read its 1960 text with a smile: “There is no evidence that the ladies of the law are about to take over police departments.”

The department’s jurisdiction covers all unincorporated areas, 73 percent of geographically widespread Santa Clara County, which includes Los Altos Hills and the Moffett Field area.

The department manages every aspect of law enforcement except traffic, which the California Highway Patrol oversees. Sheriff’s deputies, however, respond to crimes committed on highways and can also write speeding tickets.

Los Altos Hills, Cupertino and Saratoga contract for law enforcement with the Sheriff’s Department rather than staff their own local police departments. By consolidating three cities under one administration, Smith said law enforcement is managed well and in a much more cost-effective manner.

According to the FBI’s uniform crime reports, Saratoga is the No. 1 safest city in California. Los Altos, which has its own police department, is rated the second safest city and Cupertino the 12th.

The Santa Clara County sheriff also runs county jails, which house more than 4,000 inmates. When asked about the effect of inmates being transferred from state to county jails, Smith responded that nonviolent, nonsex and nonserious offenders now serve their sentences locally in their county of residence rather than in jail.

“But do not believe that crime rates are up because of this prison thing,” she said.

To combat the traditionally high recidivism rate – approximately 70 percent of those who commit crimes return to jail within three years – the Sheriff’s Department has established vocational training programs.

The Rotary Club of Los Altos meets 12:15 p.m. Thursdays in the Garden House at Shoup Park, 400 University Ave., Los Altos.

For more information, visit losaltosrotary.org.

Marlene Cowan is a member of the Rotary Club of Los Altos.

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