The work of the Turlock Police Department encompasses several specialized units that take a focused approach to fighting crime and protecting the city. Whether it’s the Traffic Safety Unit or the Turlock Narcotics Enforcement Team, these units operate on a shared goal of keeping Turlock safe and the recently released annual report from the police department shows the efforts are having an impact.
The previous year saw the Traffic Safety Unit embark upon a mission to reduce injury collisions involving motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists after seeing the rates rise dramatically over the last couple of years. The efforts included routine usage of message boards, a radar trailer and a decoy car. The unit also was awarded a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety Selective Traffic Enforcement Program that was used for the purchase of equipment and funding education and enforcement operations. Some of the operations included driving under the influence saturation patrols, seatbelt enforcement, distracted driving crackdowns, and participation in events like the Every 15 Minutes program.
In 2017, the police department recorded 1,027 collisions, which is an increase of 8 percent from the 952 reported in 2016. Of those collisions, there were fewer fatalities reported — two compared to five in 2016 — but more injuries. The number of collisions with an injured party rose to 387, which is a 36 percent increase from the 285 reported in 2016. The rate of non-injury collisions fell by 2 percent in 2017.
The year also saw the Traffic Safety Unit issue less citations at 1,717. The number is 26 percent lower that the 2,318 reported in 2016. The Traffic Safety Unit also coordinates the County Integrated Traffic Enforcement team, which consists of personnel from six agencies throughout Stanislaus County. During a C.I.T.E. team operation consisting of seven officers, approximately 80 enforcement stops were made and approximately 50 citations issued in a three-hour period.
TURLOCK NARCOTICS ENFORCEMENT TEAM 2017 STATISTICS
Search warrants 79
Cocaine seized 1.76 grams
Marijuana seized 429 pounds and over 1,500 plants
Meth seized 11,860 grams
Heroin seized 54.11 grams
Firearms seized 11
Assets seizure $122,900
Perhaps the most beloved of the specialized teams is the K9 Unit, with the four-legged officers serving as community ambassadors for the police department. The unit was initially formed in the 1980s and served the city through the ensuing decades until 2008 when the economic downturn forced the department to suspend the program. The unit made an official return in 2016 and 2017 marked its first full year back.
The Turlock Police K9 Unit consists of two teams: K9 Keyser is a 4-year-old male, black German Shepherd from Czechoslovakia, who is partnered with S.W.A.T. Officer Queray McMihelk. K9 Varick is a 4 and a half-year-old, male, sable German Shepherd and Belgian Milionis mix from Czechoslovakia, and is partnered with Officer Nim Khamo.
The two K9s train routinely on a variety of skills, including tracking, building searches, evidence searches, building and open area searches, scene security, and handler protection. They train with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and are available to assist allied agencies.
Additionally, the K9s play an important role in the police department’s community and public relations effort. Over the course of 2017, the K9s participated in school visits, National Night Out, and the Annual Public Safety Open House where the K9 teams demonstrated their abilities and mingled with members of the community.
The K9 Unit also is working on becoming an essential tool for the Turlock Narcotics Enforcement Team, which recorded another busy year for drug busts in the city. The unit operates on tips from the general public and through follow-up based on the observations of patrol officers. In 2017, they conducted 79 searches, which resulted in 145 arrests.