A skater does a trick at the local skate park in 2014.

The Hollister Police Department did not issue a single citation to minors for violating the state’s helmet law between 2011 and late September of this year, according to documents obtained by the Free Lance through a records request.
Hollister police issued 0 citations for each year since 2011 for violations of the state helmet law—which would result in a $25 ticket—or the city’s own municipal code ordinance also requiring the use of protective headgear by juveniles on bicycles, skateboards, scooters or in-line skates, according to records requested by the newspaper.
Non-existent enforcement from 2011 through Sept. 29 of 2015 followed Hollister police issuing one helmet-law citation in all of 2010, two in 2009, nine in 2008 and three in 2007, records show.
Before that period, there was a three-year stretch in which Hollister police issued a relatively robust number of citations to minors without helmets: 71 in 2006, 23 in 2005 and 100 in 2004, according to police records.
Police Chief David Westrick responded to questions on the citation figures by email and pointed out the department hasn’t had a “program” related to bicycle safety since 2003. Westrick said he spoke with Hollister schools Superintendent Gary McIntire after the fatal bus accident involving 11-year-old Joshua Rodriguez and they decided to develop an education program “irregardless of no funding source.” The chief said the department would start “active enforcement” of the helmet law once newly hired school resource officers are hired.
Police released figures to the Free Lance in light of a growing presence of local youth around Hollister choosing to shun helmets while on bicycles, skateboards and scooters. The trend has been particularly evident at public events such as the weekly farmers market that just wrapped up its six-month run and venues such as the Daniel Yetter Memorial Skate Park at Veterans Park.
The local helmet-less trend, and lacking enforcement, has continued despite the death of Rodriguez in late July. A transit bus struck and killed the boy on a bicycle while he had been crossing Memorial Drive at Verdun Avenue near the skate park.
Although the Hollister Police Department has refused to disclose whether Rodriguez was wearing a helmet or if any of the evidence at the scene included headgear, the former interim fire chief, Bill Garringer, told the newspaper after the accident that he hadn’t seen a helmet on scene. The victim’s mother shortly after the incident also told the Free Lance she didn’t believe Rodriguez had been wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
A California Newspaper Publishers Association attorney, Nikki Moore, told the newspaper the local police department was legally obligated to share information about the helmet by at least providing a list of evidence property in the investigation as part of a police report summary.
“If ‘helmet’ is mentioned, it should be disclosed as property involved or as a relevant fact in the summary,” Moore wrote to the Free Lance in an email.
The police department, while refusing two separate public records requests from the Free Lance regarding the helmet verification in the Rodriguez case, released an investigative report Sept. 4 concluding that the bike on which the boy had been riding lacked operational brakes.
Police did disclose numbers on helmet tickets. Those numbers requested by the Free Lance go back to 2001 when the city opened the skate park named after the 17-year-old, Yetter, who died after a skateboarding accident while riding without a helmet.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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