March 5, 2008

Officers CHiP in to street patrols

Mariecar Mendoza
The Desert Sun

California Highway Patrol officers are working on Desert Hot Springs' streets to help curb traffic violations and gang activity.

A collaborative program between the city's police department and the highway patrol's Indio Station started Tuesday.

The goal for the Desert Hot Springs Cal GRIP Operation IMPACT 2008 is to combat crime through "high visibility traffic enforcement and gang suppression" in areas identified as having a history of criminal activity, said Police Chief Patrick Williams.

The highway patrol will provide a supervisor and up to four officers for initiative. It's to last three to four months, Williams said.

This is the first time the Indio station has taken part in such a collaborative operation in the valley.

"We're hopeful this will add to the menu of activities we've been putting forth in our community to make it safer for our residents and businesses," Williams said Tuesday.

The Desert Hot Springs Police Department already has a joint program with the Riverside County Sheriff's Palm Desert Station focusing on speeders, reckless drivers, jaywalkers and other traffic violators near school zones. That program ends March 31.

Councilman Karl Baker said he is excited for the added enforcement, but added the benefits would extend beyond his city.

The operation is fully funded by a state grant and is expected to cost between $100,000 to $150,000, Williams said.

"We're going to help in whatever way Chief Williams asks us to," Highway Patrol Capt. Sherrell Sutherland said.

"We're going to do aggressive traffic enforcement and hopefully we'll be taking people to jail and writing tickets."