Administrators of two crime-fighting social media groups met with newly promoted Riverside County Sheriff Capt. Leonard Purvis Monday, March 6. Sheriff Stan Sniff recently designated Purvis as the incoming Commander of the Hemet Sheriff’s Station, replacing Capt. Joe Borja who has since retired.
The meeting took place at Jilberto’s restaurant in Anza. Attending were Bud Elmore and Diane Sieker of Anza Crime Watch and Eleni Malandrinos of Sage Community Watch. The Facebook group administrators called for this meeting to bring Purvis up to speed on the needs and concerns of local residents. He agreed immediately.
Many subjects were presented, among them the increase in illegal cannabis “grows” or farms. Locals are worried about the light pollution emanating from the greenhouses at night, the constant sounds of generators, unpermitted grading and redirection of water flows, as well as a perceived increase in criminal activity associated with these locations. People squatting and cultivating marijuana on vacant properties is becoming epidemic, they said. Many of these complaints are handed over to Code Enforcement as a result of Riverside County Ordinance 925, but Purvis assured the group that the Sheriff’s Department and MET (Marijuana Eradication Team) works hand in hand with them to help resolve these problems.
“I look forward to working with you, members of the community to make your neighborhoods and roads safer and encourage citizen participation,” Purvis said. “This meeting allowed me to find out some of the issues that are affecting you and talk about possible solutions to those problems.”
Members of the Facebook groups also reported that they are concerned about property crimes. From tractors, trucks and motorcycles to quads, trailers and tools, almost everything is targeted by resident thieves. Local “chop shops” have not received the attention that locals think they should and Purvis made a note to look into the repeat offenders carefully. Administrators for the Crime and Watch groups post tips on how to help prevent loss and assist law enforcement with recovering their items, but the main complaint members have is the lack of police presence.
Mail theft is another plague faced by the citizens of Anza, Aguanga and the surrounding communities. While this crime is a federal offense, it is the local sheriff departments that apprehend the suspects. Purvis repeated the sage advice of see something, say something. Citizen tips are imperative in cases of this nature.
Aggressive and irresponsible drivers, being of major interest and frustration of residents, was also discussed.
Purvis admitted to not being intimately familiar with the Anza area, but pledged to resolve this immediately. The group filled Purvis in on the most pressing issues and together they will plan a public Town Hall meeting with him, members of his staff, Code Enforcement and other law enforcement officials.
“We are planning two community meetings, one in Anza and the other in Sage, in the hope that we can answer some of your questions concerning crime and quality of life issues. I hope you can attend,” Purvis remarked.
“Capt. Purvis is very receptive and attentive to our needs,” said Elmore, “considering our exclusive area in Riverside County. He has already shown a great interest in one of the overlooked communities in our county. Very much expecting positive changes from him. Lord knows Anza needs it!”
Purvis has over 27 years of law enforcement experience, with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Banning Police Department and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. He has a wide range of experience to draw on, and the people of the mountain communities look forward to his help in solving the problems at hand.
Dates of the upcoming community meetings are still being discussed. Watch Anza Valley Outlook and www.anzavalleyoutlook.com for more information.