Community Policing coming to Georgetown
Attendance was strong with approximately 60 people for the monthly meeting of the Rural Communities Coalition on Thursday, May 1 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Garden Valley Fire District conference room. The purpose of the meeting was to report on activities to date in the ongoing realms of removing barriers to residential construction, and promoting/protecting local schools, water and fire districts. The increase in attendance was notably due to the meeting’s timely special topic of community safety.
Guest speaker Lt. Jeff Dreher of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office provided an overview of the rates of crime reports and calls for service for the year of 2013 and for 2014 to date. The data reflects activity within the sheriff’s zone which encompasses that portion of El Dorado County north of Chili Bar. Burglaries were by far the most numerous crime with 238 in 2013 and 21 for the first third of 2014.
Addressing the status of the forthcoming sheriff’s substation in Georgetown, the lieutenant reported the opening of the station is imminent, within three weeks. The location is in the Buffalo Hill Center. Furniture and technology infrastructure are under way. The station will function as do others in the county, manned by STAR volunteers who provide a number of services including assisting the public with making police reports. The station will also provide much-needed access for deputies to critical technology-based communication in this region where cell phone coverage is spotty. The regular hours for the station will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Staffing levels of deputies was addressed. Dreher went on to say that there is at present 24-hour coverage for the local zone despite a countywide shortage of deputies. When fully staffed this zone and one other are the priority for increased staffing, and the number of deputies for this zone will increase to five positions. The Sheriff’s Department also recently initiated a “Reserve Backup Program” which supplements the department’s manpower at minimal cost, allowing for accompanying deputies in patrol cars, among other things.
Audience concerns over rapid release of arrested individuals was addressed by Dreher. Several factors contribute to the problem, including the recent realignment of responsibility from the state to counties for many prisoners formerly housed in state prisons and now housed in county facilities. The result is lesser jail time for more severe crimes. Other factors such as incomplete investigative detail in reports, bail, the role of the District Attorney’s Office and the capacity of the court system are additional factors.
Dreher encouraged anyone with a crime call to continue to call 911 and, when providing information for an investigation to provide as much useful information as possible to the responding officer. Citizens are invited to please report suspicious activity at the time it is occurring to the non-emergency dispatch phone number 530-621-6600. Any suggestions or particularly sensitive activity/concerns can be directed to Dreher at his e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org, or left on his voicemail at 530-621-7520.