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Sheriff Mele Talks About Uptick In Crime

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Mother Lode Views featured a conversation with Tuolumne County Sheriff Jim Mele on the recent increase in crime in the region. The Sheriff also talked about the new Lenco Bearcat Medcat, youth violence in schools and the future county jail.

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Sheriff Mele says 86 reported burglaries recent trend? As we look at the stats crimes have increased 65% in the last 6 months. We have seen a trend of 11% over the last year, prop 47 made several offenses that were felonies now misdemeanors. With over crowding those people who would normally be in are now out. But we are also seeing in our narcotic especially the opiate heroin prescription drugs as those crimes go up so do other crimes. it is disturbing during holiday season.

Could prop 47 be reversed?

I certainly hope so. Similar trends across the state. AB109 recrafted the judicial system to reduce the number of inmates in the prison system. Crimes such as possession of heroin cocaine possession of a hand gun is now a misdemeanor. Theft was $400 not up to $960 still misdemeanor. My employee asked an inmate what he was doing now that he was out and he said I am going shopping. Prop 47 shopping. He pulled out a calculator, I’ll go around and add up all the items I want and if it is below the misdemeanor number then he will take it. It is not just here but all across the state and at businesses too.

It is very frustrating for courts and judicial system.

Groveland Crime: Packed and overflowing town hall of concerned citizens. We now have a community deputy that will be able to reach out the businesses to teach and collaborate and help them not to be victims.
Four L’s
Locks on all doors and windows
Lighting motion detectors.
Landscaping keep away from the house
aLarm (not and L) but it helps
Dogs, and knowing your neighbors too.

Thieves are opportunists, if no marks in the snow… a neighbor can make it look like someone is at home.
Communicate with your neighbors if you are renting.

Bullying and Shooting Law enforcement more presence in schools? In our community law enforcement has a great relationship with local schools.

People look at it as a “security” purpose but there is more to it than that. Relationships are built, on our school campuses certain kids will relate to adults. If we can connect to children in a matter that it is not threatening how better our relationship in the community will be. We need to be able to continue to foster that relationship. To meet with staff and students and it is very important to be able to be on campuses.

Advice: One of the things that gets lost is we were very fortunate these things happen too often, the group of students told teachers and law enforcement and how grateful we are for the young people. Parents need to take an active role in their child’s education, do a better job and understand that they have in their hands the ability to be connected to the world with their smart phones, know who their friends are know when they may have an active depression be a part of their life. I know that you have the ability to have a positive outcome like here. When you have trust and a belief in each other that something was amiss (they tell each other).

Purchase of the Medcat we did it appropriately by letting the community know about the expensive purchase. We are the first responder to incidents involving the infrastructure like the dams that supply water to the valley and the Bay Area… We brought the idea [of making the Medcat purchase] to the board and to the public and had that conversation, and after discussion the board supported the action. I feel that is how government is supposed to work. The pluses and minuses were weighed, and an informed decision was made. It is because the sheriff was transparent and let the community know what it was for and had a relationship with the community. Tuolumne is at the forefront the community expects it and we embrace that. It is needed, it will save lives, protect my deputies and the public.

Construction on Tuolumne County Jail. We are trying to make some decisions on how the jail will operate. Right now 224 beds. Construction costs, trying to get this thing done quickly to get it out to bid the longer we are in the phases of design it costs more money because construction costs continue to rise. We will be able to provide enough programming space we are trying to do some new things with different programs and drive down the recidivism rate.

Is it tough for employees at the current jail? I have a great staff and great jail commander and she has great sargents. The employees understand that it is only a matter of time, there is that hope they will be able to get into a new jail.

Quick shout out: The DA’s office along with the sheriff’s office we ended up doing a case on human trafficking. Very proud of the detectives and the DA’s office and taking the case so seriously. Kids having smartphones this is how it took place a person able to prey on a juvenile and have a relationship over a long period of time. It DOES happen in small community counties like Tuolumne county. Going through 19,000 images, it took a long time to go through this case. How grateful I am for all of our law enforcement partners we had working on that and this was a bad/evil person who is off the street.