The Sheriff’s Office strives to lead the way in law enforcement, and one of the many ways it was able to lead in 2015 was by modernizing training to Sheriff’s deputies, community outreach to the public, and helping inmates at County Jail become more productive citizens.
Focus on Rehabilitation, Not Just Incarceration
With the County Jail population always fluctuating, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff-Coroner Ian Parkinson has invested time and effort into rehabilitation programs with the goal of reducing the recidivism rate of these inmates.
Effective rehabilitative programs address issues related to criminal behavior, such as substance abuse, criminal thinking, and lack of education and employment. In addition to continuing existing programs, the Sheriff’s Office added dynamic and meaningful opportunities for inmates in 2015.
In February 2015, the Sheriff’s Office partnered with Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union No. 403, America’s Job Center of California (AJCC), and Cuesta College to begin a welding apprenticeship program for selected Honor Farm inmates. Interested inmates participated in an intensive screening and selection process that included interviews, criminal background investigations, verification of right to work, and an eight-hour remedial welding class.
Three candidates were selected to participate in the 16-week pre-apprenticeship training class. All three candidates completed the class and are now currently employed; two are employed by Boneso Brothers Welding in Paso Robles and one is employed by Pacific Gas & Electric at Diablo Canyon.
Upgraded Firearms Training
One of the most exciting additions to the Sheriff’s Office Training Program this year was the recent purchase of the VirTra 300 Firearms Training Simulator.
This new simulator provides state-of-the-art, reality-based training scenarios on high-quality, seamless, 300-degree screens with surround sound. With this simulator, deputies can train for the most difficult real-world situations, such as ambushes, active shooters and maintaining situational awareness during extreme stress.
This training is also offered to all federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies in San Luis Obispo County.
What’s more: this new simulator was purchased at no extra cost to the taxpayers. The Sheriff’s Office Asset Forfeiture and Homeland Security Grant funding paid for the simulator.
Savvy Use of Social Media
When Sheriff Parkinson first began his term, he identified a need for better engagement between the Sheriff’s Office and the community. For several years now, there has been a growing effort to become more actively involved in the everyday lives of local citizens.
In 2015, the Sherriff’s Office ramped up its social media outreach efforts, resulting in one of the best years of community engagement through these tools. The Sheriff’s Facebook page and Twitter account reached 11,600 likes, an average of 23,000 people saw Sheriff’s Office posts regularly, and the community engaged with the posts by either liking, sharing, commenting on, or clicking on them an average of 2,300 times per week.
Through these social media tools, the Sherriff’s Office offered the community safety tips, crime alerts, and positive updates, such as annual family events, and employee highlights.
Citizens have provided tips on unreported crimes and potential suspects via Facebook’s private message feature, which has also enabled the Sherriff’s Office to assist citizens with other issues. Overall, this has been a very successful year for the Sheriff’s social media presence.
All of these efforts are paying dividends in the form of better communication and more transparency with staff, inmates, and members of the public. By modernizing its practices and policies, the Sherriff’s Office will be able to lead the way for many years to come.