PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Law enforcement agencies from all over eastern Riverside County swept through the Coachella Valley, serving compliance checks on 97 probationers and parolees. More than 100 officers went to the homes of individuals on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS), mandatory supervision and parole. The operation ran from 6 AM to 6 PM by 16 local, state, and federal agencies targeting individuals on PRCS, mandatory supervision, and parole. "Living at the address they say they're living at," said Sergeant Andy Diaz, from the Cathedral City police department. "That they're abiding by the terms and conditions of their probation and that no new law violations are occuring."
Twenty-four arrests were made, 18 were felonies and six misdemeanors. Among the felony arrests was one parolee-at-large who was found to be in possession of ammunition, drugs for sale and weapon. Drugs and weapons - including one of which had to serial number filed off -- were seized from various target locations. "We're finding people with drugs, we're finding people with weapons," said John Hall, the public information officer for the Riverside County District Attorney's office. "Some of the things this operations also doing is taking weapons off the street. "
The ongoing sweeps are to locate anyone who might have violated mandatory supervision or probation.
The sweep is a response to legislation which went into effect on October 1, 2011, Assembly Bill 109, or Public Safety Realignment. The bill, meant to ease prison overcrowding, transfers offenders convicted of non-serious, non-violent, and non sexual crimes to local jails instead of state prison. Before realignment, offenders who were released were supervised by state parole agents but now they are on Post Release Community Supervision by county probation officers. "It's created new issues that we didn't have before so now we've had to react to that," said Hall.
Because of thousands of prisoners released early from county jails , local law enforcement agencies created Post-Release Accountability Compliance Teams, or PACT. There are three regional Post-Release Accountability Compliance Teams in Riverside County: one each in the Central, Eastern and Western regions. Nearly 600 parolees or probationers live in the valley, the sweep focused on the most high-risk, but even that can be misleading. "They could be serious or violent offenders, gang members, that just their last committed offense was a drug offense or a car theft," said Sharon Shuster, the Riverside County district attorney in charge of PRCS. "So, it is very frustrating."
Despite several arrests, officials can only wonder if the sweep's enough to keep these people behind bars this time. "If they're federally released, they'll be out again," said Shuster. "So, it is somewhat of a revolving door but we're doing the best we can."