BARSTOW • Law enforcement activity was high Thursday as four separate agencies collectively sought out suspected and potential violators of probation and parole, yielding 32 arrests in a one-day sweep.
The sweep was the first of the year for the Barstow Police Department and focused mainly on post-release community supervision probationers — those impacted by Assembly Bill 109 — Sgt. Andy Espinoza Jr. said.
AB 109, passed in March 2011, is California's response to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring the state to reduce state prison overcrowding. The bill essentially realigns lesser offenders to jails and gives responsibility to local agencies to monitor them after their release.
Barstow Police Lt. Mike Hunter said that the added responsibility has been a strain on the department's resources.
"Now, there are more people we have to monitor. We rely heavily on the probation department to assist us," he said. "It's placed a heavier burden on local agencies."
Police have also experienced an increased amount of property crimes since AB 109, as a majority of PRCS probationers are non-violent with property theft histories, he said.
All in all, 21 arrests were due to warrants for probation violations and 11 arrests were for new charges, according to Hunter. Five of those 11 arrests stemmed from search warrants for narcotics, the most predominant of violations on the day, Espinoza Jr. confirmed.
In one stop, authorities checked a probationer's known residence to find different occupants living inside. Ironically, authorities made an arrest at the location after investigation revealed marijuana being grown and sold by the occupants.
Forty total officials from Barstow Police (K-9 unit and Special Response Team included), the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, the San Bernardino County Probation Department, the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office and, later, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation partook in the sweep.
Each year, Barstow Police normally perform two such sweeps and assist other agencies with two to three more, Espinoza Jr. said.
This year's sweep paid off better than in years past, officials said.
Hunter said the 32 arrests were "high for this type of operation. It was successful."
Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.