Members of the Community Services District Security Committee heard residents' concerns about drug use at the community's parks and gathering places Tuesday as resident Jerry Smith asked the CSD to implement 13 measures that came out of the forum he held last week at the Rancho Murieta Community Church.
The measures include creating a police force for Rancho Murieta and adopting county ordinances for drug use and underage drinking.
Jerry Smith and Joanne Macomber were among those who spoke.
Committee members pointed out that the issue of peace officer status for Security patrol required further research, and proposals for better lighting, security cameras and drug-free signage at the parks needed to be addressed by the Rancho Murieta Association. RMA Director Mel Standart, who was one of about 10 people attending the committee meeting, suggested Smith make the same presentation to the RMA board at its Sept. 18 meeting.
Another of Smith's suggestions was to provide Volunteers in Partnership with the Sheriff with another patrol vehicle to increase patrols in the community.
Audience member Jacque Villa, a VIPS volunteer, explained that VIPS are trained by the Sheriff's Department and operate under its direction, not the CSD's, and there are currently only four volunteers in the community.
The CSD purchased a patrol vehicle for the group when it established the James L. Noller Safety Center in an effort to attract more law enforcement presence to the community. The center opened last year. It's staffed by VIPS. The VIPS working at the center patrol when there is sufficient staffing, Villa said.
Security Chief Greg Remson said the Sheriff's Department is making an effort to increase its presence in the community. He said Problem Oriented Policing (POP) Deputy Mark Kuzmich has increased patrols in response to recent vandalism incidents and drug use complaints and has been talking with local youth.
Smith read an e-mail he said a local teenager sent to a friend. "Things are changing in Rancho" because parents have met with the Sheriff's Department and given them the names of "kids associated with drugs," Smith quoted the e-mail as saying. "... Tell the kids to keep everything on the down-low. No more dealing at the park or smoking at the park."
Smith said, "I think we do in fact have a problem that can be dealt with by our own community." He added that his intention in organizing the drug forum was to provide a presence and greater enforcement powers to keep drugs from spreading. It was not to create "a pseudo-militia force" in the community, he said.
Murietan Joanne Macomber said she contacted the District Attorney's office after attending last week's forum and was told "it should be very simple for us to adopt an ordinance" addressing drug possession. The person she talked with offered to help and made suggestions that included writing a letter to the parents of known drug users "giving them the opportunity to ask for help with their child," Macomber said.
The following issues were also discussed at the committee meeting.
- The resignation of a Security patrol officer creates a second patrol vacancy for the department. Remson said the department will rely on off-duty sheriff's deputies to provide an additional patrol officer for weekend shifts until the two positions are filled.
- Remson described the latest spray paint attack on the pedestrian bridge as a combination of vandalism and gang graffiti. Photos were provided to the POP officer and gang specialists at the Sheriff's Department. Since the name of the gang was misspelled, it's unsure that "if we've got a hard-core gang member," Remson said.
Director Bobbi Belton proposed taking the option of offering a reward to the CSD board for consideration.
- Other vandalism incidents in August involved damaged landscape lights, a broken car window and toilet paper jobs.
Thefts included one from an open garage and a house burglary in Murieta South that's being investigated by the Sheriff's Department. "We don't believe it's a random burglary. We believe it's a known suspect," Remson said of the break-in on Reynosa Drive that was reported Sept. 1.
- Of the 93 RMA rule violation citations in August, 31 were for driveway parking, 27 for speeding, 22 for overnight parking, eight for guest parking, two for unauthorized vehicles, one for commercial vehicle signage, one for motorcycle violation and one for stop sign violation. In addition, there were 41 rule violation admonitions.
- Alcohol-related incidents included a disturbance at the Country Club and the arrest of an intoxicated non-resident at the Country Store by a sheriff's deputy.