By Robert A. Lovingood, 1st District Supervisor, County of San Bernardino
In small towns, suburbs and large cities across the nation, violent crime rate increases in 2015 and 2016 represent the largest single-year increases in the national violent-crime rate since 1991. In 2015 the United States saw the largest jump in the murder rate since 1968.
In the High Desert we have also seen sharp increases in crime. So I’d like to share with you what we’re doing.
Since I took office in December 2012, funds have been allocated for the sheriff’s summertime crime sweeps in partnership with High Desert cities. Last summer’s “Operation Desert Guardian” included 20 separate operations between June and September, resulting in 834 arrests, including 150 felony and 684 misdemeanor arrests. The Sheriff’s Department has also added a fifth Homicide Team to investigate and solve murder cases across the county.
Because of the success of “Desert Guardian,” I successfully advocated for $1 million in supplemental funding for a yearlong series of sheriff’s crime sweeps throughout the county.
In the first six months, these additional operations resulted in 660 arrests, including 466 felony arrests. Sheriff John McMahon’s teams of deputy sheriffs are continuing to focus on gang enhancements and repeat offenders. These targeted sweeps are ongoing.
Furthermore, because of decriminalization policies promoted by Sacramento politicians, Sheriff McMahon has restructured the Narcotics Division by combining both gang and narcotics units under one umbrella. The unit focuses the department’s resources on criminal street gangs, utilizing proactive enforcement and intervention measures specifically designed to enhance public safety. It is proving to be an effective strategy.
Another element of our strategy is the “GIT”—the Gang Intelligence Team. It is a task force comprised of Sheriff’s Department personnel and personnel from the FBI, Probation, CHP, and San Bernardino Police Department who handle complex investigations. The GIT conducted three large-scale investigations, resulting in the arrest of 85 gang members for major felonies (most are facing multiple-year sentences). They also assisted homicide with two unsolved murders, resulting in the arrest of five suspects for murder. The county has also made progress in reducing recidivism and addressing the issue of mentally ill inmates in county jails.
These strategies are working. Our crime problems were not created overnight and they won’t be resolved overnight; but you can be assured that our deputies are working diligently toward resolution. Thank you for supporting our men and women who put their own safety at risk every day to protect our families.