The job of keeping the public safe is one that extends beyond the officers on patrol and the detectives working cases. The Turlock Police Department utilizes several special units that target specific areas, all with the goal of increased public safety.
“We are fortunate to have several specialized units in our department,” said Turlock Police Chief Robert Jackson. “Not all agencies are able to staff such units. Each specialized unit is able to provide specific focus on their areas of expertise. Our special units receive special training and are equipped for their specific task.”
Just like the overall number of calls for service increased for the police department, the work being done by the specialized units grew in 2015 as well, as reflected in the recently released annual report.
Perhaps one of the most visible units in the Turlock Police Department is the Traffic Safety Unit. Staffed with one sergeant and three team members, the unit is responsible for investigating all reportable collisions and enforcing all the city’s traffic laws, including anti-drunk driving efforts, speed reduction efforts and child safety seat checks.
“Our traffic unit is equipped with a great deal of training and utilize motorcycles for safety and mobility while enforcing traffic laws,” Jackson said.
The traffic unit had a busy year, with an increase in the number of total collisions and citations issued. But the unit did see a 75 percent decrease in the number of fatal collisions.
In 2015 the traffic unit investigated two fatal collisions, one involving a pedestrian and one involving a motorcyclist. The previous year the unit investigated eight traffic fatalities, according to the annual report.
Turlock had a total of 847 reportable collisions in 2015, up 2 percent from the 827 percent reported in 2014. While the number of total collisions grew, the rate of injuries declined. Of the 847 collisions, 276 resulted in injuries, which is down 2 percent from the year prior. There were 571 non-injury collisions, which is up 6 percent from 2014.
The Traffic Safety Unit issued 1,202 traffic citations in 2015, up 47 percent from the year prior. The number of parking citations decreased by 27 percent, going from 1,345 citations in 2014 to 976 in 2015.
The Traffic Safety Unit is hoping to see the rates decline with the implementation of the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program grant from the Office of Traffic Safety. The grant was awarded for the 2015-16 grant year and will be used to fund DUI enforcement efforts, seatbelt checks, distracted driving crackdowns, and other general traffic enforcement efforts.
The Traffic Safety Unit wasn’t the department’s only unit to benefit from additional funding. The Animal Services Unit was awarded $7,500 to increase the no/low cost spay and neuter program and a donation of $8,000 from a private citizen to purchase a new isolation trailer.
The Turlock Police Department’s Animal Services Unit had mixed results when it came to cats and dogs. The number of dogs impounded, adopted, or returned all increased, while the number of cats impounded, adopted, or returned all decreased. The rates of euthanized cats and dogs both decreased in 2015.
“Our Animal Control Unit serves all of our city’s animal related needs. The members of this unit are trained and equipped with specialty equipment to serve in a safe and humane manner,” Jackson said.
The shelter impounded 1,226 dogs in 2015 for a 3 percent increase from 2014. Of those, 528 were adopted and 342 were returned to their owners. The rate of adoptions grew by 11 percent and the rate of returns was 16 percent higher than the rate in 2014.
The shelter euthanized 254 dogs, which is a 14 percent drop from the year before. Two dogs either escaped, were stolen, or died at the shelter.
In 2015 the shelter impounded 1,245 cats, which is a 20 percent drop from the year before. Of the impounded felines, 222 were adopted and 10 returned to their owners. The rate of adoptions declined by 7 percent and the rate of returns dropped by 71 percent.
The shelter euthanized 1,010 cats in 2015, which is a decline of 22 percent from 2014. Three cats were either stolen, escaped or died at the shelter.
The Animal Services Unit took in $70,102 from licenses sold, which is a drop of 2 percent from 2014.
Another specialized unit that has had a big impact on Turlock’s public safety is the Turlock Narcotics Enforcement Team, also known as TNET.
The Turlock Narcotics Enforcement Team was formed in 2008 and has had a continual impact on the amount of drug trafficking in the city. The team’s goals are to address, disrupt, and suppress, the local street level sales of narcotics. The team relies on the information provided by patrol officers and community tips to initiate their investigations. In 2015, the department conducted five controlled buys, served 15 search warrants, arrested 63 people and recovered four firearms.
“Our narcotics unit gives us the ability to conduct undercover investigations where a uniformed officer may not be able to spend the time or focus that these detectives can,” Jackson said.
For the year the team seized 2,000 marijuana plants and 630 pounds of marijuana. They also seized 414 grams of methamphetamine, 120 grams of heroin, seven grams of hashish, and 73 pills. A total of $39,990 in assets were seized during the investigations.