Sac County Sheriff’s Dept. Reports to Delta
March 9, 2016
When Delta residents packed the meeting room at the Japanese language school in Walnut Grove to hear a presentation by the Sheriff’s Department recently, they were hopeful that they would hear long awaited good news. For most of the past 10 years they have remained hopeful that a law enforcement presence would return to the Delta and to their neighborhoods.
Several attendees participated, speaking up to ask questions, but it wasn’t clear that they were satisfied their questions had been heard or that they felt the answers they received were even responsive to their questions.
At one time the Delta communities had a very good relationship with the Sheriff’s Dept. In the past Sergeant Randy Yen, now retired from the Sheriff’s dept., spearheaded the creation of a service center for the benefit of Walnut Grove citizens and by extension, all of the Delta communities since there were no other service centers in the Delta. When the Walnut Grove Fire District generously donated the use of half of their building to become an active Sheriff’s Service center, the Sheriffs committed to maintaining and manning it for the benefit of the citizens. But in time the leadership of the Sheriff’s Dept. changed and with each administration it has seemed as though the Delta communities were less and less important to the agency responsible for protecting them. Support that had been hands-on with regular patrols and officers who got to know the citizens. Deputies once were in direct visible and daily contact with the population but that relationship has disappeared. Deputies became “as-needed-if-available,” responding to the Delta from Sacramento. Depending on how far south a caller was located they were sometimes told that it was too far to come and often advised to purchase a gun, learn how to use it, and protect themselves. One elderly business owner and crime victim interviewed in 2015 reported being told by responding deputies, “you can’t expect us to drive all the way down here when you people didn’t vote for a tax increase to give us more money,” after being hit with multiple burglaries. Over time the Delta has become known as a place without law enforcement presence where criminals are free to prey on communities. So it was no surprise that so many turned out to hear what the Sheriffs had to say at this meeting.The approximately 1 & 1/2 hour event included a large number of uniformed personnel, making an impressive appearance.
Lt. Jim Barnes started off the meeting by giving an overview of what the department is doing now. He explained, “The Sheriff went before the supervisors and asked for additional funding for this intelligence-led policing,” later adding, “we show up mainly when people call us.” Barnes introduced Sgt. Nick Goncalves, community relations officer, explaining: “So Nick and his team come out now and if there’s issues, how can we bridge that gap?” Adding that Nick does a good job. He also mentioned officer, Julie Prayter, who handles social media like Twitter.
Other officers were introduced from various other divisions, including the SWAT team, gangs, etc. He commented that everyone is frustrated, saying, “I don’t think there will be anything said here tonight that will contradict what you feel”. He stated the purpose of the meeting is to learn how they can make improvements and better serve the area. “Tell us how you feel” and adding, “the answers we give you may be tough answers to hear but it’s our reality.”
Captain Gary Ilg spoke next about the area he commands and that it is a very large area including the southern end of Sacramento County and Delta. He continued, “here’s the reality that I have, in the whole central division for 24/7 public safety operations I have 75 deputy sheriffs,” commenting that he feels this is not enough deputies.
Sgt. Duncan spoke about team policing which they hope will work better because in the past they have had inconsistent supervision and lack of focus, stating that it wasn’t a coordinated effort. The basic description is that they are now centered in Sacramento instead of having units in the specific areas served.
Some of the statements and questions from those in attendance included:
“We know you are terribly busy and we appreciate everything that you do and that you can do, we understand stuff going on -I would venture to say, on a per capita basis, we probably have more crime out here than you do downtown so if you could talk about what can we do about solutions, that might be a way to get more patrols going,” suggesting that they, bring back resident officers. He also suggested that they institute a program like the Star Program in San Joaquin County which utilizes citizen patrols in marked cars, supplementing law enforcement as a visible, vigilant presence.
This garnered a long, rambling explanation of why this wouldn’t work for them, from not enough money to inconvenience for the deputies. Not giving in to his frustration, the citizen continued, “I’m interested in hearing what you think the issues for our particular area are and how you are strategizing for whatever has spiked, to bring that back, so can we talk about issues?” The officer seemed to imply that the fault lies with the victims, offering, ”Prevention is easier,” adding that a lot of the crime is committed by individuals from outside of the area that are driving through the Delta, forgetting that this is why the citizens are asking for better coverage.
Another citizen said simply “give us some answers.” He reminded everyone present to call in problems because they are statistically driven.
A third citizen asked why an encampment of meth addicts that has moved into a back area of Locke is not being dealt with, adding that he is interested in prevention.
He was told that if they are on private property it’s an issue for the property owner. The officer also stated that they could go out to investigate and repeated that it is important to report that this is going on.
A fourth citizen asked to have the Sheriff’s Department conduct this kind of meeting with the community more often than once a year.
When another citizen asked for printed monthly bulletins to resume, she was directed to go online for information to the Sheriff’s website: SacSheriff.com to learn what has been occurring in the area.
Another citizen asked that deputies come down to the Delta and get to know the area and the residents as they once had. He was told that that was a luxury that isn’t possible anymore.
The following information regarding Intelligence Led Policing is from the Federal Bureau of Justice:
Intelligence-led policing (ILP) is a policing model built around the assessment and management of risk.
Intelligence officers serve as guides to operations, rather than operations guiding intelligence. Calls for intelligence-led policing originated in the 1990’s, both in Britain and in the United States.
Hopefully this will translate to a more effective level of policing as voiced by those at this meeting and other citizens of the Delta communities who have complained prior to the meeting.
According to background information, the Sacramento Sheriffs received an approximately $5 million increase in funding to add additional deputies and increase coverage where it is inadequate, addressing that need. With these extra funds the Sheriff’s Dept. has promoted 4 deputies to Sergeant, 8 Sergeants to Lieutenant and added 23 deputies transferred from county jail duty.
The most recent (2014) data on sheriff’s salaries can be found on the website: transparentcalifornia.com (http://transparentcalifornia.