Colusa County Sheriff Joe Garofalo has promised to boost law enforcement efforts in the Stonyford area.
Garofalo introduced the fulltime patrol deputy at a meeting last Thursday at the Stonyford Grange. The meeting was the second in a series the sheriff has scheduled throughout the county.
Deputy Rowdy Piper is a five-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office. He worked three years in the jail, and has been on patrol in the valley the past two.
Garofalo said Piper’s patrol functions would be spent exclusively in the Stonyford area.
“I know it has been a long time coming,” Garofalo said. “Since our last meeting, we have had zero applicants for the resident post up here. It is still vacant, and we are still actively recruiting trying to fill that spot.”
Piper will not be living in Stonyford, but until the resident post is filled, he will patrol 40 hours each week, allowing residents to see a familiar face on a more regular basis.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone,” Piper said. “You can call the Sheriff’s Office if you need me, or flag me down when you see me.”
The growing of illegal marijuana, along with an increase in petty and property crimes, dominated the meeting. And while Piper currently works the day shift, residents said they hoped his schedule could be worked out so that his presence is not always predictable.
“As long as it’s not the same dates and same hours each week,” Barbara Cook said. “They tend to find out what your days and hours are, and when you leave town, all hell breaks loose.”
The sheriff said that in addition to Piper’s fulltime duty, he would still send occasional patrol deputies to the area, and will boost law enforcement during the Stonyford Rodeo and the annual Sheetiron Dual Sport bike ride, both occurring in May.
As with the recent cannabis meeting in Stonyford, illegal marijuana cultivation dominated the meeting.
Since the passage of Proposition 64, which allows California residents to legally grow six plants inside an opaque structure, and possess or give away one ounce of process marijuana outside the structure, Stonyford residents claim criminal cannabis operations have stepped up processing. In addition, the foothill community has had an influx of drug users and the criminal element, resident said.
“You might say they are tweakers,” Miranda Wycoff said. “We had one woman knock on my door in the middle of the night. She knocked on everyone’s door. It’s worrisome. We don’t have cops up here, and it takes 45 minutes for (them) to get up here.”
Wycoff said her concern is that somebody is going to get hurt, as residents tend to protect their property with firearms.
“I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I’m going to protect my family,” she said. “There are a lot of new people up here, and it concerns me because I know they are up to no good. They don’t come out until evening and they kind of lurk around.”
Garofalo said having a fulltime deputy in Stonyford should help, and the task force would be working on getting the illegal marijuana growing under control.
Task Force Commander Mike Bradwell said the county pulled 16 marijuana grows last year, and will be working on outdoor cultivation first, before moving on to the illegal indoor operations, which includes greenhouse, big-rig trailers, and other unpermited structures.
Currently, Colusa County allows no commercial cannabis operations. Legal cultivation for personal use is limited to individuals age 21 or older, who are fulltime permanent residents at the property where the cultivation takes place, said Community Development Director Greg Plucker.
Marijuana cultivation is only allowed in a secured, permitted accessory structure (not an inhabited dwelling) located on the same legal parcel as the residence.
Accessory structures must also meet other requirements, including odor control filtration, ventilation systems, a water source, and other utility and support systems that the county deems in its sole discretion to be required pursuant to state and county codes, and must be legally permitted through the Colusa County planning and building department, according to the county’s ordinance.
“Today, nobody has obtained a permit to grow private, personal marijuana in the county,” Plucker said. “Anyone who is growing marijuana is growing illegally.”
Garofalo’s next community meeting will be held at 6 PM Thursday, April 12, at Princeton High School. ■