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Sweep ends with 4 arrests of DUI suspects
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Thanks the efforts of Deputy Chris Sterni, Lathrop is already known as a place where those driving under the influence are likely to be caught.

But last week the department showed that they don’t just slap the cuffs of offenders and walk away – performing a sweep in the community targeting those who failed to show up for their court dates or violated their probation in some capacity after being convicted.

Four people were arrested in the joint sweep between Lathrop Police Services and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

The operation was funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety by way of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

And while the numbers of those who were taken into custody weren’t enormous, officers hope that the effort will send a message to anybody else that believes they can skip out on their court date and suffer no repercussions.

“The best bet for anyone with a missed DUI court date is to go to court on their own now,” said acting chief Ryan Biederman. “If you don’t, that warrant isn’t going away.

“We’re going to come find you and take you to jail.”

Because of Lathrop’s position along I-5 and between California’s two major north-south arterial freeways, the city gets lots of traffic from outside of town and people passing through between I-5 and Highway 99 – some of whom happen to be under the influence.

Sterni, now the city’s Community Resource Officer, earned awards from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for the better part of a decade for his stellar arrest numbers of those operating a vehicle while under the influence – nabbing 50 drivers under the influence by himself in 2014, and then increasing that amount by 50 percent the following year.

In comparison, Sterni earned the award from MADD in 2009 for arresting 20 people operating a vehicle under the influence and boosted that total to 75 by 2015.

Those that were arrested in the sweep last week will face additional jail time for failing to appear – where in some cases the charges wouldn’t have required any jail time to be served – and for violating existing DUI probation.

Since 1981, California has been a state where those who kill somebody while driving under the influence can be charged with murder – a rare charge, but something that exists if prosecutors can prove the “implied malice” necessary for a conviction.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.