Next to a carton of off-brand chocolate chip granola bars and half-consumed cans of Cherry Pepsi were stacks of emergency contact forms, boxes of latex gloves and several police radios.
For the second time in a week, the Grape Festival Grounds’ Burgundy Hall served as the command post for a multi-agency parole and probation sweep in the northern part of San Joaquin County.
Although nine separate agencies participated in Wednesday’s sweep, their efforts were coordinated by Sgt. William Alexander, of the Lodi Police Department. While Alexander’s primary goals were keeping the roughly 100 officers safe and apprehending criminals, he also took satisfaction with how costs had been monitored in the effort.
“Everyone here is on straight time,” he said. “No one here from any agency here is making overtime.”
More than 100 residences in the area were targeted by officers during Wednesday’s seven-hour sweep. They were looking for repeat offenders, wanted criminals and making sure those on probation and parole weren’t violating conditions of their release.
The Galt Police Department, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, San Joaquin County Probation, Stockton Police Department, Lodi Police Department, California State Parole, United States Marshals Office, Delta RATT
(auto theft task force) and the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided officers for Wednesday’s effort.
Why use the Grape Festival Grounds?
The size of Lodi’s jail wouldn’t be conducive to a large-scale effort like Wednesday’s parole sweep said Cpl. Dale Eubanks, of the Lodi Police Department.
“The jail would get bottlenecked with all these people,” he said.
Using the Grape Festival Grounds as a central location enabled the different agencies to work together and communicate easier, said Sgt. Todd Wright, of the San Joaquin Sheriff’s Department.
“Information flows better when we all work together,” Wright said. “You can’t just tell another agency ‘Oh, that’s your problem.’”
Although Wright admitted there is still competition and a friendly rivalry between various law enforcement agencies, the days of not sharing information with one another are a thing of the past.
“You are going to continue to see more of these types of joint operations,” he said. “Especially with continued budget cuts.”
Wednesday’s big haul
San Joaquin Sheriff’s Deputy Rudy Lovato and Galt Police Officer Wesley Pittman seized narcotics, two handguns, a crossbow and drug paraphernalia from a Thornton home Wednesday night.
The two were part of a team that conducted a probation sweep for a suspect who wasn’t supposed to have firearms or controlled substances in his possession.
Not only did the officers find a loaded .40 caliber Heckler & Koch handgun and several digital scales with narcotics residue on them, a parolee from San Jose was also in the residence. The parolee did not have a travel permit and was taken into custody.
Behind the scenes
Before officers strapped on bulletproof vests and knocked on doors, they first needed to get their instructions. The process not only involves grabbing some snacks and seeing where they would be patrolling, it also means being ready for the worst.
Prior to beginning the sweep at 3 p.m., each officer was required to fill out a emergency contact form so family members and loved ones could be notified in the case they were injured — or worse — in the line of duty.
When it came to knowing where to find parolees, efforts of California State Parole played an integral role. The agency separated targets by area codes and checked earlier in the week to make sure addresses were updated and accurate, said Julie Kaplan, California State Parole district administrator.
“A lot of them can change their residence overnight,” she said. “So we have our agents constantly monitor them.”
While the apprehension of the suspects may be the most glamorous part of the job, the booking and transportation aspects are equally important.
Inside Burgundy Hall were four separate stalls for authorities to start the booking process. After being apprehended and arriving at the command center, suspects were led into a room and sat down as their information was entered onto a series of documents.
Once the process was completed, the arrested parties were handcuffed to a bench. Then they would wait for their ride to the county jail in French Camp.
In the parking lot of the Grape Festival Grounds sat two vans belonging to the county’s Sheriff’s department.
As soon as eight suspects were gathered, they were herded into the vans and transported to jail. Upon reaching jail, the paperwork completed by officers was entered into the jail’s database.
Twenty arrests were made in Friday’s portion of the sweeps, Alexander said. He was hoping to bring the total for the two sweeps to 50, he said. More than 20 arrests had been made as of 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at email@example.com.