A recent ‘Mythbusters’ cannonball experiment nearly resulted in tragedy when an errant cannonball smashed through a suburban neighborhood. The projectile sailed through a bedroom where a couple and their child were sleeping. After exiting the bedroom, it smashed into a minivan that had been parked just 10 minutes earlier.
The cannonball blast did not come from a Hollywood set. For the past 8 years, the show has enjoyed free use of the Alameda County Sheriff Department Bomb Disposal Range.
But don’t worry… the Sheriff provides a safety expert to monitor stunts. Unaware of basic physical laws, this “expert” apparently felt a cinder-block wall provides protection against heavy ordnance. Cannons, mind you, were used in medieval times to blast through castle walls.
It is the latest in a string of embarrassing episodes for the Department, which has become — if you pardon the pun — a Loose Cannon.
The Department gained notoriety in recent years over plans to build a juvenile super-jail. The jail was seen as a big revenue source for the department, and local construction contractors. Due to popular outcry, that plan was thankfully scaled back. The Department is also notorious for having scored 9-11 grants to purchase a military gunboat. The idea of Sheriff Deputies chasing after Terrorists with NATO-issue machine guns made for a hilarious episode of 60-Minutes. Soon after that report, grant funding ceased for the program.
And when not Blowing Shit Up, the Sheriff Department has spent an inordinate amount of time going after law-abiding cyclists. Just ask Chuck Pascoe, who was charged for ‘holding a parade without a permit’ – an offense that carries a maximum 6-month prison term:
Pascoe had no idea that the ride, the annual fund-raiser for Cherry City Cyclists, a San Leandro club, would cause a fuss.
But he hadn’t reckoned with the North Valley Homeowners Association, whose members were fed up with cyclists hogging the roads. After years of quiet grumbling, the 54 residents of rural Collier Canyon Road decided to act. They signed petitions, sent an emissary to Livermore City Hall and contacted the Sheriff’s Department.
Watt found a sympathetic ear when he expressed his concerns to sheriff’s Capt. Dennis Scheuller.
After inspecting the 3-1/4-mile stretch of narrow Collier Canyon Road just outside Livermore where the Cherry City Jubilee would begin and end, Scheuller decided it was too dangerous for bikes and cars to share.
Chuck was told to get a parade permit, which was denied. The ride went on anyway, with Chuck being cited. That was in 1997, but even 10 years later the department was still going after cyclists for not getting parade permits to ride on county roads.
For now, an investigation is planned over the cannonball incident. It would be nice if it results in changes in the department, with actual adults assuming responsibility. But given past history, that seems unlikely….