DHS crime sweep sparks concerns over prison realignment

Seventeen arrests were made in a crime sweep in Desert Hot Springs that targeted parolees and gang members.  The coordinated "Operation Nemesis" used more than 100 law enforcement officers from the DHS Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Border Patrol, and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department among other agencies, visited and/or searched nearly 50 residences.  "It's good to feel that the streets are being picked up and they're safe," said Louie Fuentes, a Desert Hot Springs resident.  "Good for us."

Desert Hot Springs police said most of the 17 arrests were made on felony charges.  Though it gave some residents peace of mind, some still worry.  "It's a good thing it happened," said Cathy Davidson, a Desert Hot Springs resident.  "Do I actually feel safer in this town, because I've lived here for so many years? No." 

Mayor Yvonne Parks says the root of some of the crime problem can be traced to decisions made in Sacramento paired with low-housing costs in the city.  "We do have a parolee population," said Parks.  "It's AB 109, it's the release of those we can't keep track of." 

Governor Jerry Brown's AB 109 hands over the supervision of non-serious, non-sexual, non-violent felons to the county level to ease state prison overcrowding.  The realignment left many county jails so full, low-level inmates were released to be rehabilitated as parolees.  "If it's just a misdemeanor or whatever, they go in," said Parks.  "They come out, because there's no place at the end. " 

While Parks understands the challenges the city faces, she says sweeps like Operation Nemesis show safety is the priority.  "One criminal off the street at a time and hopefully we'll have that Eden that everyone wants," said Parks. 

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