Residents in rural areas of Merced County will likely see more sheriff’s deputies in their communities from time to time as part of a rebooting of an old saturation patrol strategy aimed at increasing law enforcement in some underserved neighborhoods.
Deputies targeted the Santa Nella and Dos Palos areas of Merced County the week of Feb. 21, adding more than a dozen deputies to the routine patrols in an effort not only to crack down on drug and traffic violations, but also to increase “positive interactions” with people in the community, Sheriff Tom Cavallero said.
“It’s not a new idea and it’s probably something that won’t be uncommon for us to do again in the future,” Cavallero said.
Two people were arrested on felony charges of selling drug sales during the enforcement sweep and deputies seized about 2 ounces of methamphetamine and more than $3,000 in cash during a routine traffic stop, Deputy Delray Shelton said.
Deputies also impounded two vehicles and issued 16 citations while making more than two dozen stops in an eight-hour period, Capt. B.J. Jones said.
The idea stemmed from recent strategy sessions at the Sheriff’s Department and was planned by Sgt. Jim Pacheco to add patrols without increasing overtime costs.
“If we can do it without hurting the budget, then I think it’s win-win for everybody,” Jones said.
Plans for additional patrols have been in the works for several weeks. Similar patrols are expected in various communities in the coming weeks and months, though the Sheriff’s Department did not want to release specific timetables.
“It’s not really a reaction to some of the things we’ve been hearing at the county town hall meetings, but it does address a lot of the concerns that have been raised by residents of the community at those meetings,” the sheriff said.
“It’s just making ourselves available to the community and working to have positive interactions with the community and it just really feels like the right time to do it,” he said.