County says war games can continue without loudspeakers
Union Tribune (2009-07-22) Jim Okerblom
This Page: http://www.copswiki.org/Common/M806
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, Private Mercenaries
VALLEY CENTER -- The sounds of combat helicopters, automatic weapons fire and other battle noises being broadcast in a rural Valley Center neighborhood has to stop, but military training on a private parcel can continue, the county has concluded.
The training of Marines and SWAT team members takes place on a 17-acre avocado grove on Pala Loma Drive owned by David Bishop, an Escondido police and SWAT officer.
Several residents on San Antonio Way, across a canyon from Bishop's grove, have complained about battle sounds played on a loudspeaker, as well as actual gunshots.
County inspectors determined that because of the size of Bishop's property, the training itself did not violate zoning ordinances. But the simulated battle sounds were deemed a nuisance, said said Gig Conaughton, a county spokesman. Inspectors also concluded a smoke generator was not a fire hazard and the actual weapons used were being fired legally.
Two members of the county Animal Services Department also viewed the exercises and determined that live pigs used in them were treated "with the utmost respect and care" and there were no violations, said Lt. Daniel De Sousa
, a spokesman for the department.
"They use the animals to train field personnel on how to treat injuries," said De Sousa
, who declined to describe the training in detail.
San Antonio Way residents Ruth Harber and Dan Hochwender said Bishop told them that trainees treat wounded pigs as if they were humans with combat injuries.
Bishop said yesterday he could live with the noise ruling, but didn't know anything about the use of pigs in the training.
At least some of it involves Direct Measures International, a Newport Beach company founded by Alon Stivi, a former member of the Israeli Special Forces.
"Let it go back to being a farming community," said San Antonio Way resident Dan Hochwender.
Credit: STAFF WRITER