From October 25, 2012
Editor’s note: South Lake Tahoe police chief Brian Uhler’s son, Alex, died last week. He has asked that this be shared with the community.
I thought it of value to write colleagues in public safety about my son so you might recognize our important role in helping families and people with addiction problems. I do not ask for specific action but hope you seek to make a positive difference in your own way when the opportunity comes.
Alex was the rare sort of person, having a pure and good heart who truly cared about others even more than he did about himself. Those who met Alex casually would know him as a highly regarded student at Queens University where he worked on special projects involving gene mutation and the probable pigmentation of the eyes on dinosaurs. One professor recently wrote, “I’ll remember Alex for his unending curiosity and his wonderfully dry wit.” He added that Alex “had a love of learning that was unsurpassed by his peers.” He explained that he liked Alex for his “sharp mind, his interest in science, his interest in issues of the world, but also for his unassuming manner.”
When he was about 10 years old, I was driving past a homeless man holding a sign “hungry, please help.” Alex asked, “daddy, can we give him some money?” To this, I explained, that giving him money will just lead to him buying beer or something. Being quick of mind, even at this young age, Alex said, “well, can we buy him a hamburger then?” Touched by his sweet nature, I said “sure, son,” and we helped that homeless man with a burger.
As a boy scout, Alex would take special care of the younger scouts. He would never belittle or make fun and was known to help the “underdog” without second thought.
One day, about two years ago, Alex came home beaming that he had just eaten 10 tacos at Taco Bell. When I asked, he explained that he was driving in San Francisco and he saw a man trying to push his broken-down Cadillac from the road. The man couldn’t push hard enough so Alex stopped his car and offered a helping hand. When they finished, the man unexpectedly and insisted that Alex take $20 dollars for his kindness. Alex immediately rewarded himself with as many Tacos that he could eat.
Growing up, Alex was always a great helper, ever ready to help lift something or participate in a project. I came to respect his intellectual abilities many times over. Typically, I would be struggling with a problem and Alex would glance at it, without any effort at all, and say, “maybe you can…” Sure enough, more often than not, his suggestion would be right. When he was young, I would tend to dismiss his ideas, but as I progressed in life, I learned that I should listen to Alex.
His sharp mind and amazing ability to recall information was very clear to people who knew him well. You could ask Alex a question about some obscure fact and chances are he would recite an answer like he was reading it from a textbook. As we who were closest to Alex have come to know, his brilliant mind was often racing and restless. Even as a young child, he found it difficult to go to sleep. His mother and I would take turns laying with him combing our fingers through his hair until he would drift off to sleep.
Many years ago, when Alex was young, he said, “Mommy, I think there’s something wrong with me.” We didn’t think much of it because every visible indication was that Alex was fine (good grades, scouting, sports, etc). Later in life, we learned that Alex struggled with anxiety that was most troubling when he was alone. As a family we helped him in many different ways. Unfortunately, each time we did things to help Alex, we unintentionally burdened him with an inner conviction and determination that he would not hurt us more.
This is what led Alex to conceal his addiction to virtually everyone. I believe with all my heart that he didn’t want to be the cause of anyone’s pain, let alone those he loved most.
On the day the photo was taken, Alex and I started the hike at about 5 p.m. We took a little less than three hours to make it to the top. At first, he took the lead, boldly making progress up the mountain. Each time I’d fall a little behind, Alex would stop and wait patiently. This happened a couple times, then he stopped and fell in behind me. After about an hour of more hiking, I asked, “Hey, buddy, you staying back there so you don’t make your old man feel bad, right?” He said, “Yeah, dad, something like that.” Later that evening, it got cold, we got lost and had only cell phones to light the way. At one point, he said we should find shelter and wait for daylight. Stubbornly, I refused. Now, I’d give anything to huddle with my buddy on the side of a cold mountain.
Specific Information about the memorial service to be held this Sunday will be forwarded later. The family asks that no flowers be sent. Instead, a donation in Alex’s name to a Queens University scholarship fund will be appreciated. This information will be forthcoming.
– Brian Uhler is the chief of the South Lake Tahoe police and fire departments.
Heroin in Charlotte
Alex Uhler was a straight-A student, an Eagle Scout, and earned a black belt in Taekwondo. And he was a heroin addict. Why are kids like him, from Charlotte’s wealthy neighborhoods and good schools, turning to the deadliest drugs?
“I’m not embarassed of my son,” Deanna Uhler says. “I was proud of him ’til the last breath he took.” After he died, his girlfriend painted his portrait and gave it to Deanna.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LOGAN CYRUS
California voters were duped by Proposition 47’s misleading title, “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” It is not surprising that this effort passed, as over 9 million dollars were spent in support of Proposition 47. The funding proponents included a New York billionaire ($1.4 million) and the American Civil Liberties Union ($3.5 million). The majority of those who reside in El Dorado County, including South Lake Tahoe residents, voted against Proposition 47.
California has a history of lowering the consequences for committing crime. In 2000, the “Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act” was passed. The main focus of this effort was to allow those convicted of drug offenses to avoid incarceration. In 2011, Assembly Bill 109, known as “Realignment,” reduced certain criminal offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.
Now, with Proposition 47 passing, in just the last few months, many jurisdictions are seeing a spike in property crimes (up as much as 30%) and reduced bookings (20-30 percent less). Local officials have reported that fewer people are now going to drug rehabilitation because we’ve lost the method of mandating rehabilitation with a felony drug charge.
From a practical standpoint, I know those who commit crimes like possessing heroin and methamphetamine (now misdemeanors) are also significant contributors to other problems like violent gang crime and property crime. For many years, those of us in law enforcement have known that it is much harder to catch a thief than it is to catch the thief in possession of drugs.
I believe the notion of letting up to 10,000 convicted felons out of the California penal system and letting those who commit drug offenses and thefts go free instead of taking them to jail has bad effects on our crime rate and actually makes our neighborhoods and schools less safe. Maybe Californians who are tired of misleading political process should pass something called “Stop Misleading Politics Act.” Something simple, like letting the opposition name the proposition, would help. I would have named Proposition 47 the “Let Criminals Roam Our Neighborhoods Act.” Lock up your stuff.
Brian T. Uhler, Chief of Police
NEVADA CITY, Calif. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — The alleged carjacking suspect from an October Truckee incident took a plea deal and was sentenced to 180 days in custody and three years supervised probation.
“I, personally, am very frustrated,” says Oestreich. “I feel like this man walked free after attempting to kill me.”
Oestreich was the second of two people police say Jones targeted on October 28th of last year.
He was initially charged with assault with force likely to produce bodily injury, battery on an officer, possession of marijuana and vandalism.
Jones eventually pleaded no contest to the assault charge in exchange for the 180 days and probation.
Oestreich says she didn’t know about the deal before it was agreed to.
“She should have been informed prior,” says Attorney Nina Salarno Ashford. “She should have had the right to discuss, place her feelings, even go to court and place her feelings on the record should it have been necessary.”
California’s Marsy’s Law gives victims the right to notification of all court proceedings.
Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Glenn Jennings started at the District Attorney’s office two weeks ago.
“To try and clean that up and clear it up and bring the victim back into the fold, I asked the court to reject the plea and put the defended back in the not guilty status,” says Jennings.
Salarno says it is difficult to remove a plea deal once it is agreed to.
On Friday, the court allowed Oestreich to testify and speak to Jennings about the plea arrangement before sentencing Jones.
“We’re going to change the process, were going to do a lot more outreach to the victims,” says Jennings. “Bring them into the fold, make sure they understand everything that’s going on.”