The Committee on Health and Safety at Work reviews the year’s achievements

At the final 2023 meeting of the Beverly Hills Health and Safety Commission, current Commission Chair Lee Hilborn and Vice Chair Erika Felsenthal were recognized for their service in 2023. Felsenthal and Helena Rosenthal were introduced as incoming Chair and Vice Chair, respectively – chairman, for 2024

New Chair Felsenthal has announced that her area of ​​focus in 2024 will be on optimizing mental and physical health. This will include community outreach to disseminate health and safety information, including available mental health tools, as well as programs such as the Nurse Practitioner Program, taking action on health and safety elements of the City’s Action Plan for climate, ensuring emergency measures are in place for safe drinking water, further limiting exposure to second-hand smoke and raising awareness of ‘vaping and its dangers’.

Outgoing Chairman Hilborn said one of the Commission’s biggest achievements in 2023 was the home fire extinguisher program introduced by the BHFD, which involved the sale and distribution of over 100 fire extinguishers and training people on how to use them.

“It has led to safer homes,” he said.

In addition, Hilborn cited Wellness Day, a free community event held last Sept. 10 and coordinated by Vice President Felsenthal, a sun protection/melanoma program, and Just-in-Case Beverly Hills, a joint emergency preparedness program with the Beverly Hills Fire and Police Departments.

Certificates of recognition and appreciation were given to Michelle Marcus for representing BHUSD to the Commission during its 2023 meetings and to Lt. Reginald Evans for representing BHPD.

BHPD made a special presentation about its police K9 unit, which currently has five police K9 “officers.” Attending in person (and with a dog) was Officer Michael Downs and his canine partner Darko, a 3 1⁄2-year-old Belgian Malinois.

Downs explained that the dog was born in the Czech Republic and was specially trained to assist law enforcement officers. He said every dog ​​in the police force serves a dual purpose; and Darko’s goals are to detect explosives and “find hiding dangerous suspects”. Other dogs specialize in sniffing out weapons and drugs.

“We always clean the places [for explosives] before big events like the Golden Globes,” Downs said.

“These dogs can work for seven to nine years,” he continued. “They have a lot of physical demands on them.… After retirement, we have the opportunity to buy them in Beverly Hills for $1, and most handlers usually do. We take care of the dogs 24/7. When they are not at work, they come home with us.”

The K9 team is supported by the BHPD K9 Foundation, which provides ongoing care for dogs both on active duty and in retirement.

Josette Descalzo, Head of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability Programs in the Public Works Department, presented BH’s Climate Action Plan to the committee, noting that the largest amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the city come from transportation (49%) and electricity (46 %). Strategies to become carbon neutral by 2045 include switching to solar power and electric vehicles, diverting organic waste from landfills, using less water, urban forestry and revising codes for new and retrofitted buildings.

Things people can do include sustainable fashion, buying food from the farmer’s market, and walking and biking instead of riding.

Police and fire officials reported a vehicle fire in a parking lot under an apartment complex on Nov. 26 that spread to other parts of the building. The investigation determined that the fire was intentionally started by individuals who arrived in a second car and were taken into custody.

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