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By Officer Lois Perillo
Many of you heard the tragic news about the death of Oakland Police Officer William "Willie" Wilkins on Jan. 11. He was shot and killed by two rookie Oakland officers who did not realize he was one of their own, while he was in the process of arresting a car thief. My story is about how Willie selflessly helped me through a critical time.
It was a Saturday last fall, and the World Series was on TV. I was just five months pregnant, and I had stopped bicycle patrol to work with the Graffiti Abatement Unit.
I finished my shift and drove across the Bay Bridge, with intentions of watching the Mets beat the Yankees. I never made the game, though, because a woman ran a red light and broadsided my car. This happened at a very busy intersection, and my car was pushed sideways across the road. Luckily, the surrounding vehicles avoided hitting me.
My first reaction was to jump out of the car and yell, "Why did you hit me?" The woman sat wordlessly in her car, gripping the wheel. I looked at the damage to my car and realized it was extensive enough that I was not going to be driving away soon. Next I thought of the baby and was immediately emotionally devastated.
That's when a black car pulled up in front of mine. The dark-haired male driver exited and began walking toward me, holding a star in his hand; I produced my similar seven-pointed police star and walked to meet him. He announced he was calling a police unit, and guided me into his car, where a young woman sat in the front seat. I realized they were both dressed for an evening out, and thought how fortunate I was that they stopped. Then I cried and cried a river of tears. The woman let me cry, then reached out with her hand, touching my shoulder. She said simply, "Now you have to stop [crying] for the baby." And as I did just that, I knew the baby would be all right.
When the marked police car arrived, I left my colleague's car to make a report with the uniformed officer. My helpers left the scene before I got their names. I was so touched by both officers' responses that I asked for their names and wrote a complimentary letter to their chief. The people who stopped to help me were Willie and Kelly Wilkins. I know it was no mistake that I learned of Willie's death at Mission Station while with a fellow officer.
I extend my deepest sympathies to Willie's family, and strength to Kelly, reminding her of her words to me.
A trust fund for Willie's 11-month-old son has been established. Contributions may be sent to the William Wilkins Jr. Trust Fund, c/o Oakland Police Officers Association, 717 Washington St., Oakland, CA 94607; account number 124009606.
Where Is Lorraine?
My beat partner, Officer Lorraine Lombardo, reported a change in her duties after 10 years of patrolling the streets of Noe Valley. Captain Ron Roth of Mission Station has ordered her to patrol in the Castro whenever a beat officer is not actively assigned there -- which could be two or three days a week. The Castro is a challenging beat that demands four officers to effectively meet the community's needs; it currently has two officers, with one on leave.
Now Noe Valley has two officers, with one on leave (me), and one on loan to the Castro (Lorraine). Those of you interested in commenting on these changes may address your concerns to Deputy Chief Heather Fong, Commander of Field Operations, 850 Bryant St., San Francisco, CA 94101.
Now for the Good News
There were no reported robberies within Noe Valley during the month of December. Burglaries logged in at 10, dropping from 12 in November. Five houses, two apartments, and a garage were among those hit. Two burglaries occurred at a particular construction site.
There were four reported batteries producing two arrests, and two reports of domestic violence leading to one arrest.
On Tuesday, Dec. 12, an 18-year-old woman who works on the 4000 block of 24th Street first received telephone threats from her 24-year-old boyfriend. He then threatened her at work in person and disrupted her workplace, and subsequently battered her outside the store. The suspect fled west on 24th Street, and the woman came to Mission Station, where Officer James Pandolfi took her report and obtained an emergency protective order against the suspect.
On Sunday, Dec. 24, at 11:40 a.m., a 36-year-old woman who lives on the 500 block of Jersey Street reported that she was pushed and choked by her 41-year-old girlfriend. The girlfriend initially left the scene, then returned and was arrested by Officers Martin Loo and Leo Sevilla. The officers obtained an restraining order against the suspect.
Where Are They Now?
The 21-year-old man whom I arrested for auto vandalism at 22nd and Chattanooga streets in June of 1999 successfully completed his pretrial diversion program, and charges were dismissed on Dec. 19.
The 59-year-old man who struck a 90-year-old woman in the hand during a bingo game in March of 2000 also successfully completed his pre-trial diversion program, and charges were dropped on Jan. 11.
Graffiti and Me
My days with the Graffiti Abatement Unit, working with its originator, Officer Chuck Limbert, and the more recently assigned Officer Dorian McConico, are fulfilling. For a desk program, it's surprisingly holistic. We maintain a database of offenders and their tags. We sponsor monthly intra-departmental meetings to share information. We talk to DPW and the mayor's office to coordinate cleanup efforts. We work closely with the district attorney's office, Youth Probation, Commissioner Miller at Youth Traffic Court (where most juvenile graffiti cases land), and our own General Works inspectors. Also, we oversee the adult weekday and the juvenile weekend teams.
You may reach our unit directly at 558-5445 to speak with me, Wednesday through Saturday, and anytime to request a graffiti paint-out. Yes, that's what our adult and kid offenders do during their community service time -- in their lingo, they buff out the graffiti.
On the Home Front
I'm now into my eighth month, and Heather and I have begun birthing classes. I'm the second closest woman in my class to a due date. Mine is March 12, and of course there are already jokes about the class delivering the baby.
When I told my mom, who is 75 years young and had me when she was 32 (go ahead, do the math), that we were going to use a doula, she said, "Honey, you're not going to have one of those crazy alternative births, are you?"
It took me a moment to recover. Then I explained to her that a doula is like a companion, someone who's there by your side during and after the birth (but also a trained labor coach). "Oh, I didn't need one of those," she replied. "In my day, you knew exactly what to do."
Let's continue to watch out for one another, and hopefully Lorraine will see you on patrol a few days a week.
San Francisco Police Officer Lois Perillo keeps tabs on crime from Valencia to Grand View and 21st to Cesar Chavez Street. If you would like to discuss a crime or safety problem, call her at 558-5404, the community policing line at Mission Police Station, 630 Valencia St.