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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS | CRIME WATCH

Step Right Up and Get a Red Hot Sheriff's Job

August 21, 2000|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT

Attendance at this year's county fair may have been down, but recruitment for Ventura County sheriff's dispatchers was booming.

Tucked among the corn dog stands, ring toss games and giant blue-ribbon vegetables was a booth where deputies and other department workers tried selling passersby on a career in communications, so to speak.

They didn't have to bark like carnival workers, and cops still drew 50 people who wanted to hear about the job. Of those, a dozen filled out applications, took typing tests and signed up to take the dispatcher exam.

"There were a lot of people kicking tires at the fair, but we also had those who were really anxious to get going," department spokesman Dave Coffey said. "We really made it as easy as possible to apply."

Officials admit they had to do something to attract new blood. They've lost eight dispatchers within the last year due to attrition, relocation and stress.

Coffey, hoping to lessen the concerns of applicants, touted the job's benefits--public service, paid training and a starting monthly salary of $2,093.

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There are lots of seemingly good reasons to race to the hospital--a woman in labor, a severed limb, a heart attack--but saving a dying guinea pig apparently isn't one of them.

The issue cropped up recently when Mike Ryan of Oxnard was rushing his furry little Bessie to an animal hospital after she stopped breathing.

Ryan gave the rodent mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before strapping into his car and allegedly driving 80 mph on a curvy stretch of Victoria Road near Gonzales Road. Cops say Ryan used the shoulder to pass several cars--a big no-no.

"That's one of our really high-crash areas. We've had a lot of fatalities there," California Highway Patrol Officer Dave Webb said.

When Officer Curt Rhyan pulled Ryan over, Ryan explained his mission. The officer took Ryan's driver's license and registration and told him to pick up the paperwork later that day at the CHP office, along with a speeding ticket.

"He's planning to contest the ticket and he's filed a complaint against the officer," Webb said. "He felt his guinea pig, his baby . . . that we were discriminating against him and Bessie. For us, human life comes before animals."

Bessie survived. The case goes to court later this month. Stay tuned.

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Is this what you call "brandy-shing" a dangerous weapon?

A Los Angeles man was busted recently at a Newbury Park market after he allegedly stuffed four bottles of expensive cognac in his sturdy tube socks and then tried brawling his way out of the market, injuring three people.

Darrell Cook, 43, was subdued by three store employees and booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and robbery. He remained jailed Sunday in lieu of $100,000 bail.

During the struggle with his captors, cops say, Cook conked store manager Thomas Ross on the head with a bottle of cognac, punched employee Adam Garnier in the face and caused worker Louie Rodriguez to suffer a dislocated shoulder. The men recovered from their injuries.

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To steal a line from "Happy Days": Sit on it!

That's what cops might say if they catch up with a man they believe has tried to scam money from two Ventura restaurants saying he sat on a blob of food on a dirty seat that soiled his pants.

According to Ventura Police Det. Glenn Utter, a patron using the alias David Schwartz has sent identical letters to both Eric Ericsson's Fish Co. and Frullati, asking to be reimbursed $13.85 for dry-cleaning.

The two restaurant owners contacted police after they tried calling the number of the Beverly Hills dry-cleaner cited by Schwartz and reached an answering machine and no return call.

"I would say it's a scam," Lt. Quinn Fenwick said.

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

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