Board authorizes Riverside County Sheriff to continue operations in national forests

RIVERSIDE – An agreement between the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Forest Service to have deputies patrol segments of the Cleveland and San Bernardino National Forests, conducting drug interdiction and other operations, was approved today by the Board of Supervisors.

The contract, which is retroactive to last October and expires Sept. 30, specifies that sheriff’s resources will be utilized on an as-needed basis, with costs capped at $15,000.

According to sheriff’s documents, deputies from the Hemet and Lake Elsinore stations will be called upon for special enforcement actions, confiscating marijuana grows in the forests, handling road closures and performing details during wildfires.

Sheriff’s personnel may also be called upon to coordinate security during events that attract large crowds, such as ”rock concerts and demonstrations,” documents stated.

Patrols will be scheduled in various forest locations ”to make residents and visitors aware that law enforcement officers are in the vicinity,” according to the agreement, which is a continuation of previous compacts.

Under the terms, the sheriff’s department will bill the USFS for all expenses incurred. The hourly rate for use of a deputy, including equipment and benefits, will be $91.71.

About one-third of the San Bernardino National Forest — and an even smaller portion of the Cleveland National Forest — extend into Riverside County.

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