It’s been just about four years since the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office approved the permanent placement of deputies and a sergeant in the Village of Oak Creek. Since then, the crime rate has gone down while the department’s visibility has been on the rise.
Sgt. Brandon Rumpf took over command of the VOC sector less than two months ago but said things have gone better than he had expected.
“It’s going great,” he said. “People are really nice to us. One of the positive things is that the citizens are really connected to this area. There’s a really good relationship between the sheriff’s office and the businesses and the people who live here.”
Rumpf has been with YCSO for 17 years [10 of which were as an undercover narcotics officer] but in law enforcement for 19 years. He replaced Sgt. Dan Winslow, who retired earlier this summer.
YCSO has two sectors in the area — the VOC and the rest of the Verde Valley. Those assigned to the Village cover everything from Interstate 17 to the Sedona city limits on State Route 179. But, when officers in other communities such as Cornville or even Rimrock need assistance, they will respond to those areas. YCSO enforces speeding on State Route 179 as does the Department of Public Safety, which is in charge of all accidents along that roadway.
“We’re not bound to this area even though there is a permanent squad out here,” he said. “Obviously if someone needs backup we’re going to go or if it’s really busy in another area, the deputies come out of their sector to assist.”
Prior to having deputies and a sergeant assigned to the VOC, there was a substation in town but not an office. Today, even though they are looking to fill the position, there is an office coordinator on duty from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to assist those who want to file a complaint, report a crime or talk with a deputy. The office is located in the Castle Rock Plaza at 6446 State Route 179, Suite 217.
“Before the permanent squad was here, the citizens felt they weren’t getting the coverage they needed and honestly, they weren’t,” Rumpf said. “It’s the very end of the county and the majority of our calls come from other areas. Basically, we were coming up here to handle a call but then returning to the other areas. Citizens felt like there was no coverage up here — they rarely saw sheriff’s vehicles. But now, it’s made an amazing difference on response times as well as the relationships we’ve made with the community.”
He said now they are able to respond in minutes compared prior to 2012 when it could take 20 to 30 minutes for a deputy to come in from outlying areas.
Many of the calls they respond to in the Village are thefts as well as fraud against the elderly. In regard to thefts, he said the majority are a result of vehicle burglaries at the trailheads or at the various hotels. By having a presence in the area, he said crimes such as property theft and DUIs have been greatly reduced. In addition to the day-to-day calls, YCSO also responds to rescue calls along with the Sedona Fire District.
Including Rumpf, there are four deputies assigned to the VOC with plans for a fifth to be hired in the near future.
“Crime is often prevented by us being seen,” he said. “The deputies get to know the area and the residents so we get more intelligence that way as well. It’s changed everything since the placement of the permanent squad. You’re getting deputies who are very vested in the area and that benefits the citizens.”
Rumpf said he doesn’t anticipate the number of deputies assigned to the VOC sector to increase any time soon. In fact, as a department the YCSO is down nearly 20 positions. It’s not because of a lack of funding but rather a lack of interest.
“We’re seeing the same thing that all of Arizona law enforcement is seeing across the board,” he said. “A lot of departments are down positions these days for different reasons. The majority of it is competition amongst agencies but we’re just not getting the applicants we once did.
“There was a time in my career when you’d get hundreds vying for a few positions. We don’t see that anymore. We have nine in the academy right now and that’s one of the biggest classes we’ve had in quite some time. We’ve having to pull speciality officers and put them back on the street.”
Now that he’s gotten his feet wet with the new position, Rumpf said his immediate plans are to meet with the homeowners associations in the Village as well as more of the business owners. He’s met with members of the SFD as well as volunteers from the various Neighborhood Watch programs.
“They [volunteers} are very active in this community, which is very beneficial to us,” he said. “This is the most active community within the Verde Valley as far as being connected to the sheriff’s office.
“A lot of the information we get is from the citizens when it comes to things like potential drug activity and we’re going to follow up on that. There’s a lot of proactive enforcement. That means gaining intelligence on potential illegal activity and luckily, we have a little more time for that.” BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS