Clad in 20-pound bulletproof vests, officers from eight different law enforcement agencies swept through Lodi on Friday evening conducting parole and probation searches. The effort focused on the northern part of San Joaquin County and featured nine separate teams knocking on doors to make sure subjects weren't violating conditions of their release. Each team included a combination of state, federal and local law enforcement officials.
"We plan these sweeps months in advance," said Sgt. Doug Chinn, of the Lodi Police Department. "There has to be communication with a lot of different agencies to get everyone on the same page."
The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, Lodi Police Department, Galt Police Department, San Joaquin County Probation, United States Marshall's Office, Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement and California State Parole all participated in Friday's sweep. Multiple arrests were made, and two local officers seized a large amount of narcotics and stolen property during the sweep.
Lodi Police Officers Elias Ambriz and Ryan La Rue uncovered dozens of bottles of prescription pills, methamphetamine paraphernalia and possibly stolen items, including a passport and jewelry during a probation search on a home on West Lane around 4 p.m.
Two suspects in the home, Melinda Duran and Raymond Duran, were taken into custody.
Conducting a sweep
The Grape Festival Grounds served as the staging area for the operation. Starting at 3 p.m., officers from various agencies drafted their routes, booked suspects and collected evidence inside Chardonnay Hall. Once teams received their orders of areas to hit, they hit the road in a combination of undercover and marked police vehicles.
Each team had at least three vehicles, with one being a Lodi Police cruiser.
As members of a larger group, Detectives Steve McCulloch of the San Joaquin Sheriff's Department and Detective Paul Blandford of the Lodi Police Department patrolled through town in an unmarked Jeep Cherokee. While Blandford drove through a residential area on the west side of town, McCulloch flipped through several pages of information about the next location on their list.
The packet offers information on how many people live in the home, the number of bedrooms it has and if any dogs are owned by the subject. Even though a convoy of vehicles was used for each sweep, officers would stop short of the destination and approach on foot. The element of surprise is crucial during parole and probation sweeps, Blandford said.
"If we park right out front and they see us, it gives them time to potentially arm themselves or flush their drugs down the toilet," he said.
Chinn's team, which included Blandford and McCulloch, stopped at a home on Mariposa Way to conduct a parole search. While they didn't find any violations, several officers on the team made disgusted faces on their way out of the home after being let in by a juvenile resident.
The subject they were looking for wasn't home, but his collection of pet rabbits were. Officers joked about the smell inside the home before moving on to another location.
What happens when a subject isn't home?
The team continued its search and went to a home on South Rose Street. They were greeted by two large pit bulls as they approached the front window. The dogs curiously looked at the team and a smaller dog continued to bark as officers knocked on the door.
No one came. For several minutes officers looked through the windows and kept trying to get someone to answer the door.
"Half the time they aren't home," Chinn said.
The officers would swing by the house later in the evening, Chinn said. If the subject wasn't there a second time, it would be listed as "No contact" on the team's report.
It's not a crime for someone not to be home unless they are wearing an ankle bracelet or are under house arrest, Blandford said.
Couple arrested in sweep
Lodi residents Brian Campbell and Marian Noverise were taken into custody by officers Friday evening. Campbell had a no-bail warrant, while Noverise was arrested for obstructing police. Campbell was not home when the team arrived at his South Hutchins Street residence.
Noverise, wearing a T-shirt reading "I love my attitude problem," was verbally combative with officers for several minutes as the team waited for Campbell to arrive.
Initially, Campbell was not going to return to the property, but officers noticed what they believed to be a small-scale marijuana grow operation in the home's garage. Noverise gave officers permission to search the room, and they uncovered several cannabis plants growing in red plastic cups.
While Campbell has a license to grow medical marijuana, Noverise does not. Since he wasn't home, officers were going arrest Noverise for having plants on her property.
Campbell arrived at the home around 7 p.m. and was taken into custody. As officers searched the vehicle he arrived in, Noverise allegedly put her hands on the chest of an officer and interfered with the search. She was placed in the same patrol car as Campbell and driven to the Grape Festival Grounds for booking.
"She had several chances to sit down, but she continued to interfere," Chinn said.
Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews. com.