According to the 2012 Madera County Sheriff's Office State of the Department report released Feb. 21, crime was down from the previous year in most categories including murder, forcible rape and burglary and the county remains one of the safest in the state.
Crimes that increased in 2012 over 2011 were assault, larceny and vehicle theft. The 20 robberies during 2012 matched the number from 2011.
According to the report there were only three homicides committed within the unincorporated area of Madera County during 2012. In 2011, there were four homicides. Over the past six years, there have been 14 criminal homicides in the county.
The increase in larceny was primarily caused by the credit card 'skimming' which accounted for dozens of cases.
There are two large cases of credit card skimming at area gas stations. This crime, a sophisticated method of identity theft, consists of the perpetrators installing a card reading device in gas pumps and gathering the private information of the users of the pump.
ID theft, internet scams and domestic violence continue to be a problem in the county. Unfortunately most of the internet crimes are 'offshore' and even the FBI cannot investigate nor prosecute them.
The report said theft of copper wire continues to be a large problem in the farming community. The Ag Crimes Unit made several arrests that are awaiting prosecution.
Investigations by the narcotics and ag detectives were somewhat hampered by a US Supreme Court decision which now requires a search warrant to be obtained prior to attaching a tracking device to a vehicle the report said. Often times investigators know that a person is involved in a criminal activity and through the use of trackers could place them at a crime scene. However, now unless they have actual proof of criminal intent or behavior, they cannot use the trackers.
Crimes by type for the past six years as as follows:
|Crimes by type||2007||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012|
|Motor vhicle theft:||13||19||9||15||12||29|
|Calls for service||2007||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012|
|Calls for service:||30,479||29,595||28,284||27,683||28,369||27,812|
MADNET conducted a number of marijuana eradication efforts during 2012 although the efforts were hampered by questionable legal medical marijuana gardens supposedly grown under the provisions of proposition 215, the Compassionate Care Act. Unless there was a clear violation of law, or a large enough number of plants to interest the Federal authorities, many grows had to be left alone. They did however accomplish the following:
Grow Sites: 55
Total plants: 62,086
Public land: 25,349
Private land: 36,737
Seized processed marijuana: 1,642 pounds
Weapons seized: 36
Cash seized: $27,990
Almost all arrests were prosecuted by the U.S. attorney in federal court.
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area: A joint feral/state operated drug task force that primarily combats methamphetamine manufacturing laboratories. The department has been involved with for the past nine years and has dismantled numerous meth labs and cleaned up several lab dumps in Madera County.
During 2012, there were no meth labs discovered and no chemical dumps located within the county, compared to more than a dozen of each a few years ago.
Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team (MADNET)
MADNET consists of officers from the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement (BNE), State Parole, California Highway Patrol, Chowchilla and Madera Police Departments and Madera County Sheriff's, Probation and District Attorney Departments. It is supervised by an agent from the State Department of Justice. The report said Madera County was lucky to have saved this position, as the state though budget cuts, disbanded some 30 task forces. Madera County's is one of 18 remaining.
|Complaints requested from DA:||10||16||16||11||9|
Cash seized per asset forfeiture: $ 41,367
Value of drugs seized: $142 million
Gang Enforcement Team (MADGET)
This team was made up of officers from state and local departments. It works closely with the narcotics team as most gang members are involved with drugs. MADGET joined with the Madera Police Department's effort, named Crime Reduction Unit (CRU). This unit has now taken over the gang enforcement duties within the county.
The team took part in a short enforcement effort in conjunction with other counties called 'Operation Guardian Angel' duing 2012 in which the team checked the status of persons required to register as sex offenders with the sheriff's department. They found 143 in compliance and 18 out of compliance and not located. They made five arrests and six were deported by the federal government.
Bass Lake operations
Boat registrations pay for the entire department's seasonal operation at Bass Lake.
The Bass Lake Homeowners Association, Pacific Gas & Electric and the U.S. Forest Service contract with the department to collect environmental use fees for boat operations and safety patrol on the lake. In order to further reduce costs of this operation, the deparment created a new classification, code enforcement deputy, to patrol the lake and enforce boating laws. The pay for this position is much less than that for a regular deputy. Quite possibly, due to the economy, the number of registrations has been going down the past few years.
|Personal water craft (jet ski):||1,078||939||937||866||749||822|
|Total vessel registrations:||4,296||3,917||3,828||3,524||3,269||3,264|
Funds collected: $157,176
No persons drowned on the lake during the year.
The system for allowing for registration payments to be made on credit/debit cards during the 2012 boating season has proven successful. During 2012, nearly $23,000 in registration fees were paid in this manner. This is up from $7,000 collected during the 2011 season, the first year of the new payment system.
Safety and service
In spite of the continued reduction in resources, we have endeavored to provide the same level of service as provided in the past. We have resisted proposals to switch to 'on line' or telephonic reporting of minor crimes, vehicle thefts, missing person reports etc. as many other departments have done. It is our belief that citizens are paying for and expect police protection and the conducting of criminalinvestigations, rather than merely providing a reporting/documentation service.
The Office of the Sheriff Coroner is additionally designated as the Emergency Services Director for Madera County. No declared emergencies were reported duering 2012. The OES coordinator established the usual cooling/warming centers as the weather dictated, and arranged for the availability of road sand when needed.
The department was able to reinstate a lieutenant's position, which had been cut in a previous budget. The deparment however continues to experience personnel shortages in both the deputy sheriff and communications classifications. These are partly due to rigid requirements for hiring established by the state.
Also, in our current budget, two sergeants, one clerical and 12 deputy sheriff positions were not funded and thus eliminated. These eliminations were in addition to three deputy positions that were eliminated in a previous budget.
The department's communications supervisor retired and a clerical supervisor transferred to another department. The clerical supervisor position was eliminated and for purposes of salary savings, the communications supervisor position was left unfilled.
The department also lost Undersheriff Frank Benard and Detective Sergeant Dirk Kinkle to retirement. Both had served the department for more than 30 years.
Many department employees continue to take two days per month furlough, reducing personnel resources and efficiency even more.
Putney Ranch Camp
We continue to run the camp donated to the County by Judge Marsha Putney. Its intention is to provide the 'outdoor experience' to developmentally disabled children. This year the camp was utilized on several occasions by the Heartland children. Additionally, local schools held several day outings there, as did a number of Boy Scout Troops. The camp has also been used by the Department for SWAT training and SAR exercises and training.
RAD Kids Program Resting Aggression Defensively
The department received a $40,000 grant from a Chukchansi Community Grant to conduct an anti violence campaign for young children in Madera County schools. The program consists of training the children to do something or tell someone if they are being harassed, molested or bullied by anyone. Training of volunteers/instructors has been completed and the classes are being started at Rivergold School in Coarsegold.
Search and rescue
This year the Department was faced with the usual dozen or so reported instances of persons hiking, hunting and fishing being overdue and reported as missing. Most were located within a few hours and returned to safety. All were eventually found.
During 2012, two citizen assistance programs were launched.
MC Alert, is simply an improvement over the Reverse 911 system that the department has been using for the past 10 years. Through an enhanced computer program the department is now be able to contact persons having cellular phones with prerecorded emergency alerts.
Many seniors in the county live alone and have no close family to periodically check on them. Unfortunately, because of this, citizens have passed on and their death is sometimes not immediately discovered. Once the department recognized that this a program called 'Elder Orphans' was established whereby the MC Alert computer system could check on them via telephone twice a day. If they fail to answer the phone when called, a check on them is made, usually by a members of the department's Citizens on Patrol.