The Madera County Sheriff's Department release of the 2013 crime statistics showed a significant decrease from 2012 in several crime areas including robberies, assaults, burglaries, and larceny, despite receiving the largest volume of calls in the past six years.
Though the department experience and slight increases in calls from previous years the Sheriff's department found itself investigating and reporting on fewer than 6,000 crimes, which according to past numbers is normal for any given year.
According to the report cutbacks continued throughout the state and California saw a 75% reduction in the number of drug task forces. Although the county and state are experiencing tough economic and fiscal times, Madera County continues to be one of the few counties which continues operating with its drug enforcement task force. MADNET (Madera Narcotics Enforcement Team) is mainly focused on the eradication and control of narcotics like marijuana and methamphetamines that find themselves in the hands of certain individuals and citizens.
Throughout the year Madera County Sheriff's Department continued to focus on the eradication and removal of illegal grow operations in the surrounding areas and seems determined to control illegal substances which are known to cause harm and destruction to the county.
MADNET and other agencies throughout the county conducted more than three times the parole and probation searches from eight searches in 2012 to 27 in 2013.
Between these searches and other investigations into illegal narcotics operations the county confiscated more than $770,000 in cash assets and more than $186 million worth of drugs.
Along with the astonishing number of monetary assets seized the department confiscated than 20,000 plants and approximately 2,000 pounds of garbage and 10 miles of plastic pipe from illegal grows including a 17,000 plant 30-acre grow sight in Madera.
Along with criminal issues, the report addresses internal issues and comments on the possibility of purchasing a 28,000 square feet facility to help combat the inadequate building in which they currently reside. According to the report the current workplace is hindered by the rather small building shared by Investigations, Coroner and MADNET. The new facility is expected to begin and be completed by 2014 according to reports.
The report, released last week by the Madera County Sheriff's Office, goes into details on the success and issues faced by the Sheriff's Department last year and explains the potential means of dealing with governmental cut backs and the increasingly evolving criminal element.
According to the department, 2013 was a successful year and continued to show how safe and well monitored the county is compared to surrounding areas.
"All in all, 2013 was once again a pretty good year for the Sheriff's Department. We experienced no natural disasters, spiraling crime, or other major incidents. Actually, reported crime was down in most categories. Unfortunately the Chukchansi Tribe was unable to settle their leadership dispute, and this consumed a large amount of our resources, but we were able to deter the violence which we experienced last year."
Portions of the as seen below, report go into more details as to the effectiveness of the department and how the department plans to handle areas of concern including public and officer safety.
There were no serious injuries to Departmental personnel, and we were able to reinstitute a Lieutenant's position which had been cut in a previous budget.
We do however continue to experience personnel shortages in both the Deputy Sheriff and Communications classifications. These are partly due to the rigid requirements for hiring established by the State. Also, in our current budget, two Sergeants, one clerical and twelve Deputy Sheriff positions were not funded and were thus eliminated. These eliminations were in addition to three deputy positions that were eliminated in last year's budget.
Our Communications Supervisor retired and our clerical supervisor transferred to another department. The clerical supervisor position was eliminated and for purposes of salary savings, and the Communications Supervisor position was left unfilled. We are in the process of transferring the communications supervisor position to the clerical unit as we find that it is needed there.
We lost two other key personnel due to retirement during the period. Undersheriff Frank Benard retired as did Detective Sergeant Dirk Kinkle. Both had served the Department for more than 30 years.
Throughout most of the year many of our employees continued to be subjected to the two days per month furlough, reducing our personnel resources and efficiency even more. We have operated with these shortages since January 2010.
SAFETY & 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, expect and deserve police protection and the conducting of criminal investigations, rather than merely providing a reporting/documentation service.
In spite of the great fear of "realignment" brought about by proposition 109, the feared spike in crime has not occurred, at least not in our jurisdiction. Statistically the crime rate has not varied much in the past 5 years.
The theft of copper wire continues to be a large problem in the farming community. Our AG Crimes Unit made several good arrests that are awaiting prosecution.
ID theft, internet scams and domestic violence continue to be a problem. Unfortunately most of the inter-net crimes are "off shore" and even the FBI cannot investigate nor prosecute them.
The PART ONE (major crimes that are required to be reported to the FBI) CRIMES showed a reduction in all categories except criminal homicide. The increase in homicides was primarily caused by gang and drug activity. Of the 8 homicides, 6 were drive-by or gang related shootings, and of the 8, 7 were cleared by arrest.
In short, it can be said, crime is down in Madera County. We still maintain one of the lowest crime rates in the State.
The Office of Sheriff-Coroner is additionally designated as the Emergency Services Director for Madera County. Fortunately we had no declared (or undeclared) emergencies this year. The OES coordinator took care of establishing the usual cooling/warming centers as the weather dictated, plus the arranging for and announcing the availability of road sand etc.
We also took part in several Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training exercises and CERT train the trainer & manager courses.
The required 5 year update of the County Emergency Plan was accomplished.
Interaction with the Madera County Public Health and Road Departments, PG&E, US Army Corps of Engineers, American Red Cross, Cal EMA, FEMA, and other Region V Operational Area reps, was continued. This consisted of Table top exercises, various workshops, seminars and updated training.
SEARCH & RESCUE (SAR)
This year the Department was faced with the usual dozen or so reported instances of persons hiking, hunting, fishing etc., being overdue, and reported as missing. Most were located within a few hours and returned to safety. All were eventually found. Unfortunately, one case turned into a homicide. Through grant funding and an outright gift, the unit was able to obtain an additional quad vehicle and a trailer, which will be converted into a portable kitchen.
Download the full Sheriff's annual report: Madera County Sheriff's Office State of the Department - 2013996kb PDF.