Q: With K-12 schools starting on Aug. 30, what can parents do to help foster a safe environment for returning students?

A: Parents who drive their children to school are encouraged to plan their schedule and allow enough time for drop off and pick up. You can help keep children safe and traffic moving in these areas by following these guidelines:

• Refrain from making U-turns on streets surrounding schools;

• Have your child ready to exit the vehicle upon arrival to school;

• Do not let your child out in traffic lanes;

• Obey all traffic rules and crossing guards;

• Arrive early and be prepared for traffic delays;

• Do not park illegally;

• Do not disrupt flow of traffic;

• Walk or bike to school if possible.

Parents can also contact their school principal about drop off/pick up etiquette and to ask if the school has a traffic plan. Students who take the Big Blue Bus to Santa Monica schools are encouraged to be aware of the very high demand on the buses during the first few weeks. Residents may wish to use alternate routes or to adjust their schedule for the first week or so of classes.

Q: I currently live in Santa Monica, and my job requires me to travel to Nevada about two to three times per month. If I buy a new vehicle in Nevada, can I register it there to save on registration fees or do I have to have it registered in California?

A: In today’s economy, saving money is very important. Unfortunately in your situation, you will not be able to save money on registration fees by buying and registering a vehicle in Nevada or any other state. There are two different issues to contend with in the scenario you described.

First, as a California resident, you are subject to all laws of this state. If you own a vehicle, you’ll have to have it registered in California. If you were to register a new vehicle in another state and drive it in California, you’d be gambling on the chance of not getting stopped by a law enforcement officer. If you are stopped, the officer will find the discrepancy between your California driver’s license and the out-of-state registration on your vehicle. You may be cited, and that’s no way to save money in today’s economy!

Secondly, all new vehicles purchased outside of California need to be certified to meet California smog laws. This includes certain diesel powered vehicles. DMV cannot accept an application to register a vehicle in California that does not qualify for registration. According to the DMV’s website, not all new vehicles are manufactured to be sold to California residents or businesses. Many manufacturers make vehicles to be sold in the other 49 states. These vehicles are made with smog equipment that meets federal emission standards, but not California standards.

To find out whether a car, truck or motorcycle is California certified, you can check the emission label under the hood. For a motorcycle, check the frame or refer to your owner’s manual. The label should read that the vehicle conforms to California regulations, or that it is legal for sale in California.

There are a lot of other ways to save money when buying a new car without the hassles of changing registration from one state to another. Do some research online and remember you can negotiate the price of a new car, no matter which state you’re in. There are numerous websites that detail hidden costs commonly associated with new car purchases. Look this information up and better prepare yourself before your next new car purchase. Check out the tutorial on purchasing a car at www.consumerreports.org. That will help get your started.

Q: I saw a couple of Santa Monica Police Officers dressed in army green colored uniforms with police patches on them. Is that uniform worn for a specific detail? If so, what detail is it and how do they get assigned to that detail?

A: Most likely you saw officers assigned to Santa Monica Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics team (S.W.A.T.). Officers assigned to S.W.A.T. are issued green utility uniforms. The uniforms have the same identifying characteristics as a regular police uniform, but in different colors. The green utility uniform has Santa Monica Police patches on the shoulders, a cloth badge attached above the left breast pocket with “S.W.A.T.” affixed underneath it, and the officer’s name attached above the right breast pocket.

S.W.A.T. is a collateral assignment meaning each member has a primary assignment such as patrol, detective, vice or neighborhood resource officer. In order for officers to be selected for a S.W.A.T. assignment, they must meet the following criteria:

• Must be intelligent, articulate, disciplined, of even temperament and of unquestionable ethics and integrity;

• Must demonstrate experience reflecting sound judgment and the ability to function in stressful situations;

• Must have satisfactory job performance in past and present assignments; and demonstrate productivity, initiative, and motivation in all work assignments;

• Must possess good writing skills;

• Must be in excellent physical condition;

• Must demonstrate proficiency with departmental weapons;

• Must have the ability to work harmoniously within a structured team environment.

The testing process for S.W.A.T. candidates includes a physical fitness test, a firearms test, and an oral interview. The physical fitness test is considered by many to be one of the most demanding. It starts with a mile run and then each candidate must complete 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats, and then ends with another mile run. Upon successful completion of the physical test, the candidates move to the firearms test. After the firearms test, the candidates are given a brief break to prepare themselves for the oral interview.

The selection process for S.W.A.T. is very demanding for good reason. The utilization of highly trained, highly skilled law enforcement tactical units, when called upon to assist in the resolution of critical incidents, has been demonstrated nation-wide to substantially reduce the risk of injury and loss of life to citizens, officers, and suspects alike.

This column was prepared by NRO Mike Boyd, Beat 8 (Pico Neighborhood). He can be reached at (424) 200-0688 or michael.boyd@smgov.net.

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