Our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group had two destinations for our weekly walk this past Wednesday. First, we were aware of recent assaults to older adults, and the Recreation Department's Piedmont Seniors group was having a presentation on safety. It was going to be conducted by the Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers at their meeting that morning in the Community Hall, and the public was invited. It was during our regular walk time, but we wanted to attend the presentation. So, we decided to take a short walk to Sierra, Caperton, and Guilford Avenues, and be back by 11:15 for the start of the event. The second destination was presented by walker Milt E and his wife, Yvonne, who live on Sierra. Milt offered to take us to their house to see their gardens. We could also get a peek of a special room in their house from the driveway. It is based on the design in Marie Antoinette's Le Petit Trianon outside of Paris, and it was added to their house in the 1920s. As we assembled at the Exedra we were surprised to see what looked like the entire Piedmont High student body in front of it. The students were there to protest for social justice and reducing societal hate. Thankfully the demonstration ended and the students went back to the high school just before our normal 10:30 AM start time. Public safety was clearly on the group's minds and there was a large turnout of 55 walkers on hand. Before we got started walking there was some news. The Post had reported that morning the Oakland Police Department had arrested nine juveniles on charges connected to thirty five robberies and assaults in the area, including ones in Piedmont. With this good news received, we headed off for Sierra Avenue and the Edelin's home and gardens. As we crossed Highland Avenue and made our way up Sierra, we noted the street's lovely homes, some of which were designed by Julia Morgan in the early 20th Century. Milt lead us to the house where Yvonne was waiting. They took us up their driveway past the front yard garden to more flowers along the house's side and back. Along the way, walkers peeked into the house and saw a room that is a recreation of French history. Marie Antoinette would feel at home in the beautiful sitting room with its amazing ceiling. Phil Witte took the attached photo of it, and Vincent Fisher organized us for a group photo in the backyard. We could have spent more time admiring the Edelin's home and gardens, but we needed to walk Caperton and Guilford Avenues, and get to the Community Hall for the safety presentation. We arrived at the hall a few minutes before its start time. The hall was quickly filling. Chairs were placed throughout the room and they were all put to use with some people standing. The audience was certainly over 100. Seniors group leader Janet E welcomed everyone and introduced Chief Bowers. He provided information on the recent Piedmont robberies, and described how surveillance cameras and the city's car license plate readers with their technology are powerful tools. He described his officers' response to the crimes, and complimented the Oakland Police Department for their work. He said he and his officers take what happened in the city personally, and he wanted residents to know Piedmont Police will respond to their calls and protect them. He said we cannot let what happened keep us from living our lives, but we can take precautions. People should be aware of the time of day, consider the routes they are taking, and let people know where they are going. If confronted, people should give up possessions and extricate themselves for the situations as quickly as possible. Catalytic converter thieves are a big problem now, and they carry weapons. People should not confront them, but rather call the police. Chief Bowers also said more license plate readers are coming to Piedmont, and he is creating a "Cop on the Block" program with officers, including himself, walking all of Piedmont streets. He also introduced Commander Lisa Douglas, who heads PPD's dispatch center. She also provided helpful information on how to best call in issues. Many attendee questions were then taken. Everyone agreed it was an excellent, informative discussion. We appreciated Janet and the Seniors group for scheduling it, and the great work Chief Bowers and his team are doing.
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