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Sheriff pledges higher visibility at events to deter shootings
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In the wake of several highly-publicized mass shootings in public places across the country in the last month San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow has pledged to do something to prevent the tragic events from happening here. 

Last week Withrow, who is in the first year of a four-year term as the county’s top law enforcement official, pledged increase both the visibility and presence of his officers when contracted to work at events where large groups of people are gathered together. 

“In light of recent tragedies we have experienced throughout the nation and in the interest of public safety, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office is stepping up security measures at public events,” Withrow wrote in a statement posted to social media. “As a society we need to face the fact that there are individuals that wish to cause harm on large public gatherings. 

“Public safety is and always has been our priority. From this point forward at community events that we are contracted to provide security for we will have a highly visible presence. Visibility and presence have been a proven deterrent against all crime.”

Withrow, who came out last week with a rare public statement calling for the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors to end a long and bitter contract dispute between the county and deputies, also has specific plans on how to potentially deter somebody who wishes to do harm while at the same time reassuring the public that they are being protected. 

His deputies, when at certain public events, are going to carry their department-issued rifles. 

“We believe we will be providing a safer environment by enhancing security by having deputies carry rifles on their person, which is intended to both dissuade any potential threats and also reduce reaction time should a life-threatening event occur,” Withrow wrote in his statement. “Deputies are ready to protect and have attended specialized training with the additional duty weapon you will see them carrying. 

“The extra equipment they will be carrying is not intended to alarm anyone, rather provide a safe environment for community members to enjoy.”

Deputies premiered the enhanced safety measures over the weekend at “Lincoln Center Live” in North Stockton, and the protocols will be issued for other places where large congregations gather in public places. 

The announcement came just days after Withrow called for public support for his deputies – a group that has been working without a contract for more than for years – and urged people to contact their elected county officials to urge them to act on behalf of the dozens of sworn officers that could make much more money by leaving the county and going to neighboring agency. 

According to Withrow, 10 deputies have left for higher-pay close by since he was sworn in, and another 26 are thinking about leave – a move that was drastically deplete his available manpower. In order to combat the bleeding of personnel, Withrow temporarily suspended a number of popular programs – including the Community Car program that serves rural areas like Woodbridge, Acampo, and Linden – in order to add more patrol officers. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.