Sheriff William B. Kolender
A Message from former Sheriff William B. Kolender

This year, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is foregoing the usual Annual Report format. Rather, I would like to provide an overview of this department’s accomplishments through an on-line message format. The challenges which face the global economic community also affect law enforcement, and this is why I have decided to spare the expense and time of publishing an Annual Report, and share our accomplishments with you on-line.

The following narrative will demonstrate the many noteworthy initiatives worked and completed by our five bureaus in 2008. For example, in the fall of 2008, San Diego County received $5.5 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, under the Operation Stonegarden Grant Program. This grant provides additional resources to local law enforcement so we can more effectively prevent and suppress border-related crimes with our state and federal partners. In the first six weeks of the grant, more than 950 traffic stops were conducted, 330 citations were written, 34 arrests were made, 11 seizures of contraband occurred - primarily of illegal drugs, and nearly $50,000 was seized.

Californians passed Proposition 69, the DNA Initiative, to put forensic DNA to work to solve crimes. Critical to the initiative’s success was the collection of DNA samples from those convicted of felonies. Beginning November of 2004, when the new law went into effect, deputies of the Detentions Services Bureau (DSB) began collecting DNA samples and sending them to the State Department of Justice so they could be put into the DNA database. In 2008, DSB deputies collected DNA samples from 4,191 inmates bringing the total since passage of the historic initiative to nearly 25,000. Meanwhile, criminalists at the Sheriff’s Regional Crime Laboratory developed DNA profiles from evidence collected at crime scenes by Sheriff’s field deputies, detectives and crime scene investigators. These profiles—from homicides, sexual assaults, and street crimes—were compared to the DNA of the known offenders in the database. The result: over 500 matches—cold hits directly connecting suspects to their crimes. Significantly, these are cases that would not otherwise be solved.

This, of course, translates into more justice in the courtroom and increased safety in our communities.

As successful as this coordinated effort has been, it’s going to get better. Proposition 69 provided for another change in law. Effective January 2009, rather than collect DNA samples from convicted felons only, the law authorizes collecting a DNA sample from every felony arrestee. Again, DSB deputies went to work to prepare to collect the DNA samples. At the stroke of midnight of the New Year, with no additional staff, they started collecting this valuable evidence. We expect the impact to be dramatic as we add more offenders to the database, enabling our investigators to solve even more crimes.

These are just two examples of our successes in 2008. Our department enjoys an excellent reputation, thanks to the caliber of our men and women. Especially today, with the challenges facing our state, nation, and world, we ask our employees to do more with less.

This department does not stand alone. We have a cadre of immensely talented volunteers, who augment the efforts of our staff. Without citizen support groups such as Search and Rescue, the Honorary Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, Senior Volunteers, and the Law Enforcement Foundation, we would not enjoy the accomplishments achieved.

I would also like to acknowledge the County’s Public Safety Group, led by Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Ray Fernandez, and the County Board of Supervisors, who continue to provide invaluable support to public safety.

Finally, I would like to thank the citizens of San Diego County. Your support, partnership, and friendship make us a better organization.

William B. Kolender, Sheriff
San Diego County

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