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New deputy presence in Mountain Area

Life-long Mountain Area resident Larry Rich has worked with the Madera County Sheriff’s Department since 1988. Just recently, Sheriff Jay Varney promoted Sergeant Rich to a new position, - Problem Oriented Policing (POP). As such, he will be the first contact for businesses experiencing continual crime.

“We’ve always had a good small town sheriff presence, but Oakhurst is growing and it’s time for newer tactics to identify parts of the Mountain Area that attract problems, and to help with these ongoing problems - dealing with merchants and theft issues, and vagrants/homeless,” Rich said. “Along with that, I’ll be assisting detective units with burglaries and MADNET with small illegal marijuana gardens.”

Rich, who was raised in Oakhurst, graduated from Yosemite High in 1986, donates his time to Little League Baseball and has coached YHS Girls Softball for the last four years.

“I’m involved in the community, live in the community and have a lot of passion for this new position,” Rich continued. “Sheriff Varney is trying to provide a better service to the Mountain Area.”

With POP giving a more visible face to law enforcement, Rich said he plans on attending community meetings and making contacts with business owners.

Property owners can contact him if homeless are camped out on their property. He said he will contact property owners to alert them that if there is a homeless encampment on their property, they could receive a county citation.

Rich added that he is only the initial contact for problem-solving. He is not the contact for emergencies or for taking reports.

While POP is beginning with only one sergeant, it will be reassessed in the future to determine if there’s a need to add additional positions.

“We hope the POP position will help build a better working relationship with the community given that I can easily be reached for assistance when dealing with ongoing criminal problems,” Rich said.

To contact Rich: lrich@co.madera.ca.gov, or call the Oakhurst sheriff substation, (559) 642-3201, ext. 115.

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