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SPECIAL REPORT: The future of law enforcement in the Imperial Valley

Imperial County Sheriffs Office upholds oath amidst nationwide calls to defund police - 13 On Your Sides Wiley Jawhary reports

IMPERIAL, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - A ride along with Imperial County Sheriffs Office who cover 4,500 square miles, shows just how officers in the Desert Southwest continue to uphold their oath amidst pressure.

According to the Los Angeles Police Protective league, 2020 was the deadliest year for law enforcement since 1974. A total of 264 officers died in the line of duty.

“I can’t speak for all cops, I can’t speak for all jurisdictions because there communities are very diverse, as far as us, I feel we still have public support here in Imperial County, you get to know the people when you work here for Long, that is what I like you get to know people and the community,” Sergeant Clint Ero with the Imperial County Sheriffs Office said.

Sergeant Ero knew he wanted to be in law enforcement ever since he was young. His reasons being to help and protect others.

“We have saved peoples lives… we have pulled people from cars in fires. we have saved people from drowning in the river,” he said.

Amidst the good, many are calling for defunding the police.

Chief Robert Benavidez believes a reallocation of funds to address certain issues can be met, however no law enforcement agencies in the Valley have seen changes in funding.

“I think there are different definitions for defunding and getting rid of police. I don’t think by its meaning that’s what is meant, I think what it is is looking at the heart of the bad to find the good. It's looking at what we can do as a whole collectively to address community needs,” he said.

“As deputy sheriffs law enforcement officers, a lot of us are community members, and we are community members first, and in serving and protecting our community, we aren’t doing this as a job, we are doing it as protecting our community,” he said.

Sergeant Ero says deputies do come across individuals who give dirty looks, or shout vulgar language at deputies.

“Well first and foremost I think one of the big things is you got to try and not take things personal which isn’t always easy but," he said.

And a close call at the end of our ride along. Smoke seen in the distance, Sergeant Ero made his way and found a man in distress. When the man saw us, he reached for his pocket.

The man was a person of interest. He had pulled out a water bottle and  doused himself with gasoline. For us sitting in the back, this was an example of how quickly a situation can unfold.

"Thats the tricky part of responding to calls of service, once you get on scene you find that you are dealing with something completely different and you need to be able to adjust and act," he said.

The sheriffs office along with law enforcement across the Imperial Valley share the same passion of upholding their oath.

While a cloud of uncertainty hovers around law enforcement agencies throughout our nation, those with a badge in our county say their focus is to connect and protect our community.

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports
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Wiley Jawhary

Wiley Jawhary is from Orange County California. He joined KYMA/KSWT in April of 2021.

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