A Guide for Callers to the Sheriff’s Department
Given current conditions, assistance in dealing with lawless OHV activity in the vicinity of your home is more likely from the Sheriff’s Dept. than either the BLM or the CHP. None of the three agencies consider unlawful OHV activity to be a high priority, so if you are to gain any benefit from an attempted contact with them it is important that you be willing to take the time and effort to see the call through. This isn’t always easy; responses are frequently hours late in arriving or do not come at all, so be prepared for a wait. Deputies aren’t always familiar with our community, so once you call it’s wise to stay near a phone so you can give further directions as needed. This can be inconvenient, and it’s tempting to just let it slide rather than commit to a process that could tie you up for hours, but here’s why it’s important to make that call:
- If the Sheriff’s, Dept. receives few calls from a community regarding OHV abuse, they assume that it must not be a problem in that community. In the long run, this can affect future budgetary and patrol allocation decisions.
- If nobody calls, the perpetrators get the impression that nobody cares about their behavior and they persist. Worse, over time they tell friends that our community is a great place to go tear around on your OHV because nobody will bother you, and the problem steadily worsens.
- By not calling, we participate in our own victimization by succumbing to a “what’s the use?” attitude. This hurts community morale and perception over time, and lowers community expectations for services we are absolutely entitled to.
It really isn’t possible to write a “one size fits all” script for assuring a positive outcome on an OHV related call. Variables are numerous, and circumstances such as deputy availability, nature of the OHV activity, potential threat to life or safety, etc. may dictate a departure from the "script" during any given incident. Speaking of safety, that is the premier concern with any request for law enforcement. IMPORTANT: If you believe that the developing situation presents an eminent threat to life, health, or safety, then forget the OHV aspect and dial 911. If on the other hand, the situation is non threatening then the OHV complaint should be called in on the Sheriff Department’s regular non- emergency line. Here are a few pointers to maximize the possibility of a favorable outcome:
Tell the dispatcher the nature of your complaint, (trespass? disturbing the peace? reckless driving? damage to public or private property?) your name, phone number, the location where the OHV activity is occurring and your Home address. be sure to tell the dispatcher what community you live in, and the nearest cross street.
Depending on the hour you call, the SBSO dispatcher you speak to may be in either Victorville or Morongo Basin Station, and may have no idea where you are.
It is important to note the name of the dispatcher you are speaking to, the time, and the incident number. They may not give you an incident number unless you ask. This information serves two purposes:
It helps you to follow up on a specific call at a later time or date
We may can your call information to verify that OHV related calls from our community are being recorded accurately by the Sheriff’s Dept.
Be sure to ask for a "deputy contact". This assures you an opportunity to discuss the problem with the deputy and increases the likelihood that the Incident number will be officially recorded. Without a deputy contact, call information is not always retained by the Sheriff’s Dept. Note the time a deputy arrives. If a deputy fails to show up, that information is also important to pass on for eventual use in negotiating with officials on behalf of our community.
Be a good observer:
While you wait for a deputy, gather as much information as possible:
Write it down along with the incident number, date, etc. What were they riding? what do they look like?
Which way did they come from and what direction are they going? Did they appear to have proper helmets and safety gear?
Do you have any idea what cabin, home, or street they are originating from?
Are they trespassing on your land? Your neighbor’s land?
Are they making a lot of noise late at night? Are they juveniles or adults?
What kind(s) of OHV’s? How many? Anything you can tell the deputy may help.
Whether speaking to a dispatcher or a deputy, always be courteous.
Regardless of how we feel about being ignored or marginalized by the county, the law enforcement employees we make contact with perform a very difficult job and deserve our respect. They aren’t necessarily in a position to make policy decisions, and by treating them with dignity and respect we bring out their best while representing our community in a positive light. If the response time is long, the deputy isn’t necessarily to blame. Calls in the basin that involve risk to human life take priority over non – emergency calls.
Dispatchers may try to dissuade you or convince you that it’s "not the Sheriff Department’s responsibility". If you believe that your situation requires a deputy, be assertive. If you believe that the developing situation presents an immediate threat to human safety (yours or otherwise) stress that point. If the dispatcher is still uncooperative, ask to speak with the Watch Commander. other agencies:
If you feel your situation should rightfully include contact with the BLM or CHP, reporting your situation to them is a good additional step.
An example of a situation where you might want to make such an added contact might be observing OHVs trespassing both on private property and closed BLM lands. The likelihood of a response from either the BLM or CHP is (currently) very low in unincorporated areas, but every call we make makes us harder to ignore. Your call counts.
Useful Phone Numbers:
Emergencies – call 911
Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Office, Non Emergency calls:
From 29 Palms or Wonder Valley, call (760) 956-5001, (760) 367 – 9546 or (760) 367-9544
Morongo Basin CHP Office: (760) 366 – 3707
San Bernardino County Sheriffs Department Dispatch — ask for Sergeant Rick Collins or the watch commander– follow instructions on how to make a report.
County Code Enforcement – Call (760) 366-4110 – Supervisor Ignacio Nunez – Senior Code Enforcement Officer Hugh Oram — Document and incidents of ORV abuse with video and photograph them. Leave a message if you get a recording. At this writing (February 2017 Code Enforcement is only staffed during M-F business hours.
Bureau of Land Management — ask for resident Ranger Kevin MacClean