CHIEF’S CORNER | By Police Chief James Fryhoff
Community = Coming Together
There is no doubt in my mind that disasters bring us together. The best of humanity is often showcased during these times. We witnessed that first hand here in Ojai during the Thomas Fire. I also witnessed it in Thousand Oaks recently during the Woolsey Fire, where I was assigned as an incident commander.
During my time as chief, I have had the opportunity to develop relationships with many members of our community. During the Thomas Fire and subsequent rains which created only a few evacuations, I was contacted by Rabbi Joe Menashe from Camp Ramah, here in Ojai, who offered shelter to any of our deputies and other first responders who might get trapped in the Ojai Valley if the roads were to get closed. Fortunately, the roads were never closed so we didn’t need to take up his offer for shelter at Camp Ramah.
Having remembered that conversation, I found myself with approximately 40 officers from Orange County who traveled to help with evacuations and patrols during the Woolsey Fire. There were no hotel rooms available within a 2 hour radius of the fire. I reached out to Joe and asked if his offer still stood (a year later) and without hesitation he said, “Absolutely!” I directed the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Deputies to Camp Ramah. Camp Ramah welcomed them with open arms and gave them food and shelter for the evening so they could return to the fire the next day.
As if this were not enough, this situation presented itself for nearly one week, where Joe and his staff welcomed in officers from around the southland to stay at Camp Ramah.
I am grateful for our wonderful community, I am thankful for the relationship with Joe and Camp Ramah, and I pray we don’t have to have any more disasters for a long time.