$775,000 sought for desert patrols

June 05, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

The Imperial County Sheriff's Office is requesting $775,000 from the state to expand law enforcement in off-road areas in Imperial County.

The department is getting more requests for off-road law enforcement at places besides the Imperial Sand Dunes, county Sheriff Harold Carter said.

The grant application states the department will expand off-road law enforcement to the west desert, including the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area and Palo Verde in the northeastern part of the county.


The county Board of Supervisors scheduled a public hearing Tuesday to get input on the grant application. No one from the public spoke at the hearing.

Every year the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Division of the California Department of State Parks provides money for off-road activity. Last year the division allocated $15.5 million statewide.

The Imperial County Sheriff's Office was awarded $500,000 for law enforcement and $84,150 for equipment in January for the 2001-2002 season at the Imperial Sand Dunes.

The sheriff is requesting $775,000 via two grants for the 2002-2003 season.

A request for $500,000 for law enforcement includes two full-time deputies, overtime for other officers, equipment for volunteer patrols, vehicle and equipment storage, a laptop computer, training and video and camera equipment.

An equipment request for $275,000 includes three four-wheel-drive sports utility vehicles with off-road upgrades, six four-wheel cycles and miscellaneous equipment including trailers and hand-held global positioning system navigators.

The Sheriff's Office has been more than successful in getting OHMV grants. In January the OHMV commission awarded the department $500,000 for law enforcement when it requested $242,400.

Law enforcement became a problem last season at the Imperial Sand Dunes as about 200,000 people came to the dunes over the Thanksgiving weekend when the area was patrolled by fewer than 40 officers.

The lack of law enforcement resulted in a shooting, stabbings, fights and a record number of citations issued for driving under the influence, driving with open containers and other illegal activity.

"I think we're going to have an increase in visitors. They know they can come here and be safe," Supervisor Wally Leimgruber said.

The board unanimously approved the grant application.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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