The Stanislaus County Insider
Q&A with Jeff Dirkse-Candidate for Sheriff of Stanislaus County.
1. What is your position on concealed carry?
I fully support CCWs and concealed carry. As Sheriff I will continue to issue CCWs to anyone who meets the standards.
2. Residential marijuana grows are a serious problem. Growers often overuse pesticides/insecticides known to cause Parkinsons, Autism, MS and other permanent neurological damage. Pesticide drift affects people and property within a 2 mile radius. Housing values are lowered and crime increases. How will you address this issue and help put an end to residential marijuana grows?
We will actively pursue illegal marijuana grows across the county. If we expect the legalization of marijuana to work, we must eradicate the illegal operations. As our staffing levels continue to increase, we will dedicate deputies specifically to the Marijuana Enforcement Team to both monitor the legal cannabis operations approved by the Board of Supervisors and remove the illegal operations. In Patterson, where I am the Chief of Police Services, we have already begun these types of operations. In cooperation with other agencies, we have eradicated 10 illegal grows in the last three months.
3. As Sheriff what will you do to cut response times county wide.
Response times are largely driven by staffing. The more deputies we have on patrol, the quicker we can respond to calls for service. Staffing levels are our No. 1 challenge. While we have made headway in the last several months, we are still down 15 positions in Operations. As we continue to fill our vacancies we will add more deputies to patrol, reducing our response times.
We will also work to add additional Community Services Officers (CSOs). They are non-sworn staff who can respond to and investigate “cold calls” that do not involve violence and have no suspects, at least not initially. CSOs do an outstanding job and can quickly and efficiently handle incidents that do not require a sworn deputy. Any additional positions will have to be approved and funded by the Board of Supervisors.
4. According to the non profit “Without Permission”, Stanislaus County is a hot spot for the sexual exploitation of children. We are part of a circuit that trafficks in children, many of whom call Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties home. What is the Sheriff’s department doing to address this issue?
We have specifically addressed this in Patterson, where I am the Chief of Police. In September we conducted an undercover operation in Patterson that led to the arrest of seven individuals for prostitution and related crimes. Earlier this month we conducted a similar operation in Turlock in conjunction with Turlock Police, Probation, the District Attorney’s Office and deputies from our Adult Detention division.
We also included Without Permission in both operations so that they had the opportunity to interact with the women that we come into contact with. They can reach out to them and try to assist them as potential victims of human trafficking. As Sheriff, we will expand the operations countywide in
conjunction with our allied agencies to address this issue.
5. Gangs are a serious threat. Can you give us an update on gang stats. How many gang members do we have now? How many are documented, etc. How are gang injunctions working?
There are hundreds of gang members in Stanislaus County. Many, but not all, are fully documented. The gang injunction is an effective tool to reduce gang violence and activity, but we must continue with our proactive efforts to reduce gang violence. STING, our gang unit, is highly focused on gangs and guns. It has an excellent track record for arresting and bringing to justice gang members who are committing violent crimes. It is understaffed and need additional resources. Related to gangs and reducing gang violence is the need to greatly expand our intelligence capability. Crime analysts can gather information from a variety of sources and synthesize it into intelligence that we can act on to proactively reduce illegal activity across the spectrum. This field is in its infancy in our department and needs to be brought to maturity with staff, hardware, software and training.