Last week’s guest at the Idyllwild Rotary Club’s Wednesday morning Zoom meeting was Hemet Station Capt. Timothy Martin of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Martin has been in the position for about 10 months now following Capt. Leonard Purvis’ retirement. Martin has been with the department for 26 years.
He told Rotarians and guests that his responsibility area covers 900 square miles and that staffing levels have fallen country-wide. “We’re having a tough time filling positions,” he said. “Fewer people apply.”
He did say the department is filling some positions from transfers and laterals coming from Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. “Three laterals are coming to my station,” he said.
According to the department’s website, “A lateral candidate is an individual who has worked as a sworn peace officer for a California law enforcement agency, has passed their probationary period, and has obtained his/her California Basic POST [Peace Officer Standards and Training] Certificate.”
Martin gave Mountain Station (Lake Hemet) statistics from November to Jan. 26, the day he spoke at Rotary.
Calls for Calls Noise
Month service per day complaints Nov. 175 5.8 8
Dec. 156 Just over 5 5
Jan. 135 5.4 5
He said noise is not a big issue in the area. The department is more concerned with what they term Part 1 incidents such as assaults, burglaries, petty theft, robberies and murder, among other things. These were the Part 1 statistics from the Mountain Station up through Jan. 26:
Stolen Petty Vehicle Month Assault Burglary Vehicle Theft Burglary
Nov. 3 1 2 5 0
Dec. 6 2 0 1 0
Jan. 0 3 1 2 1
Despite having four Hemet Station staff out with COVID right now, Martin said the Mountain Station deputies’ response time is about six minutes for major incidents when in the past, it was 20 minutes.
Currently, the Mountain Station — also serving Pinyon, Anza, Aguanga and Sage — has two deputies per 12-hour shift, one day and one night shift, for a total of eight deputies. Martin said Sheriff Chad Bianco’s wish list for the Riverside County Board of Supervisors includes adding more deputies so that three deputies cover each shift.
Also, Martin hopes to have an office assistant at the Mountain Station as well as a community service staffer, an unarmed officer. He said much of law enforcement recruits come from the military. “We are a paramilitary organization,” he pointed out.
A fence was recently erected at the Mountain Station that can securely contain 20 parked vehicles. The station has a new camera system, security locking devices, computers, etc. for major operations.
The department offers special arms training for women for which Rotarian Barbara Larsh said she has had difficulty signing up online. The course fills up quickly and she asked if more openings could be made. Martin told her the course is very popular and trainers can only handle 10 to 20 people at a time, but he will ask. The women’s training is held at the Ben Clark Training Center in Riverside.
When asked about missing people in the area, Martin said, “There are four or five people we haven’t located yet. I can’t give up too much information.” He said the Homicide Unit and Special Investigation Bureau are handling the cases.