California Group Joins State Agency For Sting Operation

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Posted on February 12, 2020
California authorities impound a limo bus in the Lodi wine region on Feb. 8, 2020 as part of a joint-sting operation with the GCLA. (photos: GCLA)

California authorities impound a limo bus in the Lodi wine region on Feb. 8, 2020 as part of a joint-sting operation with the GCLA. (photos: GCLA)

LODI, Calif. — The Greater California Livery Association (GCLA) participated in a joint sting operation with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Feb. 8 in the Lodi wine region to catch either illegal or improperly operated stretch limousines.

The sting involved enforcement officers from the CPUC, the Lodi Police Department, and Napa County and representatives from the GCLA. They worked together to identify and stop illegal operators working at the Lodi Wine and Chocolate Festival. In the very first hour, the group pulled over six limousines resulting in four administrative warnings and two impoundments.

The participants, led by Alex Nera of the Sacramento PUC enforcement division, met at the Lodi Police Department on Saturday morning to lay out the process and procedures for the day. The CPUC officers were divided into three groups and began patrolling designated areas. Four Lodi police officers were positioned throughout the city. Once a suspected illegal operator was identified, the PUC teams radioed the police officers who stopped the vehicles. When the vehicles were found to be operating illegally, the team called in tow trucks to remove and impound the vehicles. [The CPUC is the leading regulatory agency of charter party carriers and issues TCP licenses to those operations].

Police pull over a stretch Hummer limousine for alleged violations of CPUC regulations that govern charter party carriers in California.

Police pull over a stretch Hummer limousine for alleged violations of CPUC regulations that govern charter party carriers in California.

A Hummer owned by Amazing Limousines of Sacramento was the first vehicle to be impounded followed by a party bus operated by Preferred Image Limousine. Both vehicles were carrying passengers on wine tours and conducting business with expired TCP licenses. Passengers and chauffeurs from the impounded vehicles were offered free rides back to their original pick up locations. API Global Transportation of Sacramento donated a vehicle at the request of the CPUC to provide the free shuttle service.

While some passengers and chauffeurs appreciated the safety enforcement effort, one wine-tasting group became aggressive and belligerent towards the CPUC officers and complained about ruining their day of wine tasting. Amid the activities, someone called a Lodi City Council member who in turn called the Lodi police chief, who then cancelled the entire operation after only one hour. Lodi is a city of about 66,000 people that lies 16 miles north of Stockton along U.S. 99 in California's Central Valley.

Insights For Next Time

Despite the short duration, the event could not have been more beneficial for the GCLA and the agencies involved. After the cancellation, the team members regrouped at the police station for a debriefing session. Here are the insights:

  1. The CPUC cannot perform a string operation and impound vehicles without the support and approval of local law enforcement teams.
  2. Local law enforcement officers have very limited understanding of the limousine industry and its regulations.
  3. The CPUC conducts regular and consistent sting operations, but those events are not communicated to the luxury ground transportation industry.
  4. GCLA members need to partner with their local enforcement officers and request to ride along during sting operations. The awareness and insight gained is invaluable.
  5. The GCLA provided feedback and context to the CPUC enforcement officers who gained a better understanding of the industry and officers appreciated the GCLA’s involvement.
  6. The CPUC, the police department, and the GCLA all helped each other understand the challenges, roadblocks, and the opportunities for coordinating and executing these operations.
  7. The front-line CPUC officers are looking for industry involvement and support.

The short sting operation in Lodi was a success. The CPUC will be adjusting a few procedures and reaching out to the police department to improve communications. At the end of the event, the CPUC concluded with thanks to the participants and by expressing their desire to perform another coordinated sting operation in Lodi.

Source: GCLA press release

Related Topics: California operators, California Public Utilities Commission, CPUC, GCLA, Greater California Livery Association, Hummer, illegal operators, law enforcement, Legal Issues, regulatory enforcement, state regulations

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Comments ( 4 )
  • Nick

     | about 6 months ago

    Try filling out paperwork for PUC! Ask Alex Nera with PUC for help with paperwork see how helpfulll they are. No communication, no contact number with PUC , Alex has no pull or can’t do anything on his end as they are Licencing, they loose paper work, on and on and on... yet, you get your DMV pull program, drug test enrollment, registration for commercial, class b license, pay $1000 for Puc application and $15 for chp inspection, storage fees, etc... You sit there invested your time and money while Puc can’t help you, you can’t talk to anyone . This is a very bad entity of California government, there needs to be change. Like Dmv getting audited and changes made we need the same for Puc. Thank god for the one who called the city and chief of police! In my eyes the Puc and police were doing something wrong to be shut down, maybe even to say illegal just like the limo they went after! Think about it why shut down an opperation? There are two sides of the stories get the fact!!! More than one statement!!!

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