Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growdon speaks with a crowd of attendees at the annual Lassen County Sheriff’s Office Open House, May 24. Photo submitted

Sheriff’s office holds open house, presentation

As the Lassen County Sheriff ’s Office opens it doors for community members to see the inner workings of the law enforcement building and corresponding jail, attendees also had a chance to learn about what projects and problems the department is facing.

Wednesday, May 24, the sheriff ’s office held it’s annual open house, although this time Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growdon made a presentation to those who remained after on what factors were impacting crime and what the local agency is working on.

A large portion of the presentation focused on what was adding to a crime increase in the area.

Recent justice system reforms, like Proposition 47, and Assembly Bill 109, have assisted in making it more difficult to arrest people and put them in jail.

“These are all huge, huge changes,” Growdon told the crowd.

AB 109 kind of acted as a catalyst for over-crowded prisons, Growdon claimed, with the bill aiding in making some felonies ineligible for state prison. “Now most of these people

stay in jail,” he said.

With Prop. 47, some felonies were reduced to misdemeanors and it also helped to limit the ability of law enforcement to obtain search warrants.

Growdon also stressed how difficult it is to arrest someone for a misdemeanor now if the act is not committed in the presence of an officer.

Additionally, he noted, how law enforcement handles drugs has changed.

“The drug enforcement we pretty much did forever is dead,” he said, adding an example of how when they used to catch someone in possession of illegal drugs, they could use those caught as an informant to reach the drug provider.

However, now, because of changing legislation, drugs are now a cite and release situation.

Growdon also discussed how Prop. 57, which has yet to affect Lassen County, allows non-violent offenders to get earlier consideration for parole based on a variety of factors.

However, despite legislative changes, and personnel and criminal sophistication, which add to the changing atmosphere, Growdon noted how the local deputies are a great asset to the community.

“We have our people, we have really good people here,” he added, noting the department was putting a focus on hiring local people to patrol.

He also discussed the importance of the department participating in community events to show that they are a positive, helpful agency in the area. “We’re a part of the community,” Growdon added. “We want the kids to like us, we want to show that we’re approachable.”

In addition, during the presentation, Growdon mentioned projects the department was working on, such as updating the 911 system, SWAT equipment, volunteer programs, evidence storage and the jail.

Following the presentation, the attending public was able to ask Growdon questions and learn more about the department.