By Debbie Teofilo
Special to the Sun
Representatives of the Sheriff’s Office Kern Valley Substation and the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Bakersfield Office met with the Silicz Neighborhood Watch group on June 28 to discuss ways the agencies and residents could work together to maintain safety in that area of the Reeder Tract.
Senior Deputy Sheriff David Lidgett and BLM Law Enforcement Ranger Tim Boles discussed ways their two agencies work together in the interest of public safety, along with the U.S. Forest Service and the California Highway Patrol. Their large coverage areas combined with a large influx of summer visitors spreads resources thin, so all the agencies cover for each other to maintain law and order and assist with emergencies as they arise.
Senior Deputy Lidgett said their deputies are intent on making a positive difference in the Kern River Valley (KRV). One of those ways is to prove to the community that they will not tolerate lawbreakers, so deputies have been conducting sweeps to arrest those with outstanding warrants. Over a recent three-day period, the Sheriff’s Office arrested 100 people and took them to Bakersfield on buses for legal processing. In response to a resident’s question, Lidgett was discouraged in having to report that over half of them had to be released.
With no jail facility in the KRV and the Ridgecrest jail closed, it is time consuming and depletes deputy resources when having to accompany a lawbreaker to Bakersfield. The Sheriff substation will often contact other agencies to determine if any officers are traveling there and request assistance in transferring out those detainees.
KRV residents are very supportive of law enforcement personnel and readily offer them their support. Lidgett said that is very important to keep overworked deputies focused and motivated during their long 12-hour shifts. The deputies appreciate receiving feedback from the public by learning what is going on in their neighborhoods so they can be proactive in solving problems there.
Lidgett stressed that one of the most productive ways for residents to make a difference in the safety of their communities is to give feedback to the Board of Supervisors with suggestions on where they should spend their budget dollars. It is a powerful message to the Supervisors when members of the public take the time to voice their opinions, especially in person, and it means a lot to the deputies that their work is valued. “Going there is important, and I would love to fill a bus with all of us,” said Lidgett. If unable to attend a board meeting in person, residents can email their budget or other County government suggestions to Chairman Mike Maggard on his “Speak Out” link at www.kerncounty.com/bos/dist3/contact.aspx.
BLM police officer Boles encouraged the neighborhood watch group to establish a regular physical presence in nearby areas with loiterers. Criminals do not want an audience, so they will choose to go elsewhere if there are people around or cameras are seen recording them. Deputy Lidgett also added that retailers, such as those in and around the Vons shopping center, need to post signs prohibiting trespassing. Retailers need to make it clear that they do not want trespassers on their property, and that they are willing to prosecute. This will give the Sheriff’s Office the authority to detain loiterers and charge them.
Many in the audience were especially interested in meeting the BLM K-9 dog. Boles described his many years working with “Goose,” his trusted dog, which is trained in both narcotics detection and patrol work. Rather than using fire power in tense situations, “I use my words in ‘verbal judo’ to try to talk people out of making poor decisions,” said Boles. “If that doesn’t work, I pull my dog out which usually ends it by them deciding to make the right choice.”