OAKHURST – The Madera County Sheriff’s Office says they have made great strides toward assuring that deputies have everything they need to provide the best service possible.
Over the past three years, Sheriff Jay Varney has implemented several major upgrades, which were outlined by Commander Tyson Pogue to the Board of Supervisors at their “on the road” meeting in Oakhurst yesterday.
In a predominantly rural county like Madera, one of the biggest challenges of the Sheriff’s Office is responding to calls in such a geographically diverse area, said Cmdr. Pogue.
“Whether by truck, motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile, boat or jet ski, we respond when called.”
Along with traditional, boat and OHV patrols, the Sheriff’s office operates in many arenas including investigations, coroner duties, a civil division, court security, Search & Rescue, Office of Emergency Services and 911 dispatch. Under the leadership of Sheriff Varney, they have been working to leverage technology and advanced equipment to better serve the community.
“Deputies are now driving some of the most advanced patrol vehicles available,” Cmdr. Pogue told the Board. “Now, when deputies log into the mobile computer, they will have the same resources as if they were in the office. This puts them in the field longer, and improves the amount of information they have on hand. This was thanks to the amazing work of our chief information technology officer Tania Say and her awesome team.”
Each new vehicle put into service is now equipped with excellent medical/ first-aid equipment, an AED, extra armor protection, a technologically advanced computer system with built in display, and both dash cameras and body cameras. Pogue credits the CAO’s office and Central Garage for bringing this vital equipment on board.
Every patrol deputy has also been issued a smart phone.
“This adds to productivity, efficiency, increased information in the field and officer safety,” said Pogue. “All of the deputies’ firearms were also just upgraded to the newest and greatest sidearms available.”
At Tuesday’s Board meeting, the Sheriff’s Office displayed some of their advanced equipment such as a new Jeep Rubicon. They also operate tracked and standard UTV’s, advanced and upgraded boats, and Remotely Piloted Vehicles.
Pogue said the Sheriff’s Office is now looking for a new records management system to replace their antiquated 2001 system.
“This will revolutionize the way we are able to document incidents and the information available to deputies responding to calls.”
In upgrading equipment and information systems, Sheriff Varney didn’t just stop with technology. In 2016, the S.O. also improved the way Bass Lake pollution control stickers are sold.
“We created a private-public partnership with the local resorts at Bass Lake,” said Pogue. “This was thanks to the three Bass Lake resorts and collaboration with our amazing tax collector Traci Kennedy. This saved taxpayer money by eliminating the need for clerical support on Bass Lake. It also made the process of obtaining the stickers much easier for the public.”
The Sheriff’s Office also formed a Problem Orientated Policing Unit, comprised of a member from Probation and members of the Sheriff’s Office.
“They respond to ongoing or recurring community problems and attempt to solve the issue,” said Pogue. “They also seek out wanted probationers. Special thanks goes out to Chief Rick Dupree and the Madera County Probation Department for supporting this team.”
A Professional Standards Unit has also been implemented, and is in charge of internal complaints, training, and recruitment/retention.
With support from Human Resources Director Adrianne Calip and her team, the Sheriff implemented Cadet and Corporal programs, allowing them more flexibility in recruiting and more supervision on the street.
The S.O. is currently restructuring the Office of Emergency Services (OES), which is responsible for all of the County emergency plans, Search and Rescue, cost recovery from reimbursable incidents, and responding to disasters.
“One of the major challenges the past few years has been the number of disasters,” said Pogue. “We have seen everything from floods to fires over the past several years, and one of the biggest disasters we have been tasked with mitigating is drought and tree mortality.”
And finally, the Sheriff’s Office has created homeless outreach and mitigation priorities within the Civil Unit.
Pogue thanked the Board of Supervisors for all their support of Sheriff Varney’s efforts to modernize the S.O.
“I’m sure it’s clear, but I just want to point out that we have a great Madera County team,” said Cmdr. Pogue. “We couldn’t have done all of this without the support of the other County departments, the CAO’s office and the Board.”