J.P., our news editor, received an unexpected call in December from a man who identified himself as the new captain at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Hemet Station.

Capt. Ray Wood told him he was interested in being more proactive in Idyllwild. Subsequently, they set a date and time to meet on the Hill.

On Friday morning, Jan. 10, Wood arrived, toured our office and then J.P., Jay (our staff reporter), Jack and I sat down with the captain over coffee.

We came away from that conversation with certain impressions. Wood might be a man of his word. He handed each of us a business card. Big deal? Yeah, it was a big deal — because it also listed his cell phone number, and he encouraged us to use it because he believes it’s his job to be available to the press.

He showed deep concern about the burglaries in town and especially what seemed to be his department’s lack of action, a situation he apparently first learned about from our news staff and stories we sent him later.

And then he called J.P. last week to tell him an arrest was made (see page 1).

We know the Sheriff’s Department is struggling to bring its staffing back up after the Board of Supervisors mistakenly cut back the department a few years ago. But I think since Wood made the effort to come up to Idyllwild — where he patrolled as a rookie — we are seeing the presence of more sheriff’s deputies on the Hill, and not just in the Anza and Aguanga areas.

Wood emphasized that the department is here to serve the public. “I know one thing, if I blow you off, we’ll lose community support,” he said.

Read through this week’s “Sheriff’s log” on page 2. It contains more Idyllwild and Pine Cove incidents than we’ve seen in some time, indicating that our tax-paid law enforcement is not blowing us off.

I believe our new captain is a man of his word.

Becky Clark, Editor