IMPERIAL — The Imperial County Sheriff’s Office (ICSO) held its annual uniform inspection Thursday morning at the fairground’s Casa de Manana Building in Imperial. Hundreds of sharply-dressed deputies lined up for inspection to ensure their uniforms were to code and shoulder sleeve insignias were properly displayed.
Of course, the 300 strong force could not all be present, as one-third stayed behind to man the jails, patrol the county roads, and answer phones.
Imperial County Sheriff Raymond Loera said the gathering was more than just to inspect uniforms, but a way to bond as a team for the men and women who serve under him.
“Many are newly-hired and it is a chance to meet their fellow team,” said Loera. “This also is an occasion to thank the troops for their hard work. We offer refreshments, families come out, and it is a camaraderie. We do this once a year, so it is special.”
“We cover 4,500 square miles from Winterhaven to Bombay Beach,” said undersheriff Fred Miramontes, who retired from the California Highway Patrol after 28 years, and then was asked by Loera to be his number two man. “This is a great opportunity to say thank you and get a chance to meet some of the newer members of the force.”
Loera looked forward in his department to the construction on the jail being completed and the work that will entail for his department.
“AB109 (California’s Prison Realignment Plan) pretty well mandated rehabilitation for our inmates,” said Loera. “The state prisons used to hold these criminals and do any rehabilitating. Now it is the local county jails and the sheriff’s programs that must lower recidivism. We use all the tools available to us, as well as create new ideas such as the Inside/Outside program with IVC. We look to non-traditional ideas such as New Creations and Turning Point to help us when possible. We give anger-management classes. We do what we can with our limited funds.”
Of course, his men are trained regularly by the federal law enforcement agencies to guard against terrorism, one of the bigger issues for an international border county, Loera said.
“We go through lots of training. They come here and train us regularly. We learn how to identify issues and be on the lookout,” Loera added.
Loera compared ICSO’s budget restraints against the larger counties of San Diego and Riverside whose funds are considerably more. “We do a heck of a job,” Loera maintained. “We have a great community, our men live here, they raise their families here. They want us all safe.”