New deputy presence in Mountain Area | News |

Life-long Mountain Area resident Larry Rich has worked with the Madera County Sheriff’s Department since 1988. Just recently, Sheriff Jay Varney promoted Sergeant Rich to a new position, Problem Oriented Policing (POP). As such, he will be the first contact for businesses experiencing continual crime.

“We’ve always had a good small town sheriff presence, but Oakhurst is growing and it’s time for newer tactics to identify parts of the Mountain Area that attract problems, and to help with these ongoing problems – dealing with merchants and theft issues, and vagrants/homeless,” Rich said. “Along with that, I’ll be assisting detective units with burglaries and MADNET with small illegal marijuana gardens.”

Rich, who was raised in Oakhurst, graduated from Yosemite High in 1986, donates his time to Little League Baseball, and has coached YHS Girls Softball for the last four years.

“I’m involved in the community, live in the community and have a lot of passion for this new position,” Rich continued. “There were only two deputies up here, and Sheriff Varney is trying to provide a better service to the mountain areas.”

With POP giving a more visible face to law enforcement, Rich said he plans on attending community meetings, and making contacts with business owners. Property owners can contact him if homeless are camped out on their property, and he said he will also be contacting property owners to alert them that if they do have and know about a homeless encampment on their property, they could receive a county citation.

Rich added that he is only the initial contact, there for problem-solving. He is not the contact for emergencies or for taking reports.

“We hope the POP position will help build a better working relationship with the community,” Rich said, “given that I can easily be reached for assistance when dealing with ongoing criminal problems.”

To contact Rich: lrich, or call the Oakhurst sheriff substation, (559) 642-3201, ext. 115.

First arrest by POP

Less than one week after being assigned to a newly created Problem Oriented Policing (POP) position, Sergeant Larry Rich arrested a suspect for a burglary to Oak Creek Intermediate School, as well as for possession of methamphetamine.

Rich was assisting patrol deputies and a detective search for another burglary suspect in the Bass Lake area when he encountered Anthony Meents near Road 274 and Road 434. Rich spoke with Meents and found him to be in possession of methamphetamine and a hypodermic needle. Rich was then informed by other deputies that Meents was wanted in connection with an April 25th burglary at Oak Creek Intermediate School, where a laptop was stolen from a classroom. Meents admitted to the burglary and was ultimately arrested for possession of methamphetamine and the burglary.

Sheriff Jay Varney created the new POP sergeant position with flexible assignments to supplement existing patrol and investigations resources and to be able to focus efforts on particular problems in the community. This POP sergeant position is designed to have a problem solving focus and Sheriff Varney plans to expand the program if it produces the positive results that are expected.

“This case is great proof that this new concept will work,” Varney said. “With additional resources, teamwork, and motivated employees this program will produce great results and make our community a safer place.”

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One thought on “New deputy presence in Mountain Area | News |

  1. I just hope the “small” illegal marijuana gardens are just that. ILLEGAL. Medical Marijuana is legal in this great state of California, so I hope that resources will not be wasted on efforts that will be thrown out in court due to the overwhelming support that medical marijuana has, not to mention the significant amount of case law precedents that have been set.
    Now, on the other hand, the nuisance caused by vagrants/homeless/under the influence drug addicts in a particular area that my sister happens to run a business out of is heavy. I was just visiting her the other day when she had called the Sheriff’s dept. to inform them of what seemed to be a very mentally challenged adult screaming, and showing violence towards himself. When she called, she got a disturbingly hesitant response from the dispatcher. I was only visiting, and I was of the mindset that I wanted to kick this guy away from the store my sister works at (alone), and who knows what kind of situation could have ensued then. Luckily, my sister was able to get ahold of dispatch after a 3rd call, and they informed her that a unit would be dispatched to the business. Unfortunately, by this time, the man had left and went off to somewhere else.
    I don’t want to use resources arresting these people either, however, a presence in the business areas will deter these types of things, and at the same time, establish a more friendly, community involved effort to better things and be more of a PEACE OFFICER, rather than a LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER.
    Being as things such as medical marijuana and the confusing laws that prevail, an officer of peace rather than of force would be greatly appreciated.


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