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Decentralization New Chief Explains Benefits
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Riverbank's police station office is open on weekday evenings now although public demand is not as great as anticipated and closing time will probably be cut back from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m., Chief of Police Bill Pooley told City Council members at their recent session.

There are many other benefits to local citizens in the Sheriff's Department decentralization, basing of officers in the outlying areas, and stationing of officers of the North Area Command (NAC) in Riverbank, he explained.

"We can work more efficiently when we work together," he said, explaining officers patrolling certain areas are now based in the contract cities rather than in Modesto. Patterson, for example, is now the base for deputies covering the western area, Ceres the central area, Riverbank the northern area and Waterford the area east of it.

The benefits for the sheriff's department and the cities include cost sharing, increased business hours, better supervision, increased visibility, longer patrol time and greater coverage of the rural areas.

Thanks to the new system, a Riverbank based deputy who spotted something suspicious while driving home was able to stop a burglary at a Terminal Avenue store. Not long after that, officers with knowledge of the local roads, were able to trap three robbers who held up a store in the same area, take up their pursuit and catch all of them.

Cooperation between officers in the new scheme also saw the arrest of burglars who were operating in the county and then coming into Riverbank's Target store to use their stolen credit cards.

"Now we don't have an officer logging in at our Ceres headquarters and then driving all the way to the Oakdale or Riverbank area to begin work," Pooley said. "We also no longer have pockets of county territory which it is going to take a deputy half an hour to reach from Modesto. We can send a Riverbank officer."

Similar cooperation between probation officers returned to custody some previous offenders who were doing home invasions out of Turlock.

Another side benefit is the use of honor farm inmates from Modesto to do clean up work in town along First Street, for example, and on Ward Street.

Among personnel changes at the Riverbank station, he announced Lt. Tori Hughes has taken over the job for which Pooley was transferred here before Lt. Tim Beck was promoted to captain and Pooley became chief.

Thanks to the decentralization and NAC, Riverbank also has acquired two more sergeants - making a total of four - and two extra community service officers who can cut the backlog of abandoned vehicles and parking violations.