Paying special attention to law enforcement in the Valley, the County Oversight Board reorganized its budget to fund the Sonoma Valley Sheriff Substation and a similar local substation in Guerneville known as of the river substation, in order to keep the public contact channels open with the sheriff’s office.
“We have found funds to keep these substations open to the public,” said Susan Gorin, District 1 Supervisor. From the “valley basement” at 810 B Grove St. in El Verano, patrol services are provided from the Napa County line in the east to the mountain ridge between Petaluma and Sonoma to the west, Glen Ellen to the north, and San Pablo Bay to the south.
The River Substation at the corner of First and Church streets in downtown Guerneville is the base for patrol services provided in the western part of Sonoma County. This zone includes all 63 miles of coastline in the west and as far as Forestville in the east.
At their June budget meetings, the board approved a 10% increase in the sheriff’s office budget – an increase that took the two substations off the chopping block and paid community service workers (CSOs) to manage stations. “They were able to find the additional funds to support them and keep these staffed,” said Sgt. Juan Valencia from the sheriff’s office.
Last year, the sheriff’s office said substations and the Henry-1 rescue helicopter were at risk of being cut if their budget was cut, although according to Sgt. Randy Williams of the Valley Substation “We have been open and available for calls from the substation since about 1965. We deal with many calls and contacts here on a daily basis and to my knowledge we have not taken a break. . “
The sheriff’s office budget is the third highest in the county, behind the Department of Social Services and the Sonoma County Water Agency. The $ 190 million in the 2021-2022 budget represents a 9% increase over the budget of $ 175.6 million the previous year.
Community service workers are an integral part of the sheriff’s public service; they are based in the substations where they answer questions, manage reception, answer service calls and write reports, giving field agents a little more time to take care of their routes. “They wear multiple hats, I guess you could tell,” Valencia said, adding that they “are a very complex part of the valley application”.
This importance to the Sonoma Valley, especially in the Springs area, is due to the fact that the CSO that is stationed in El Verano is Sylvia Floriano, Spanish speaking. She’s been there for about 14 years, she said – or more specifically, she’s been the Valley CSO for so long, as the substation was located on Highway 12 just north of Agua Caliente.
The role of a CSO is, as might be expected, more focused on community outreach than on direct law enforcement. “It basically depends on where you are parked,” said Floriano. “In community service, I sit at the reception, answer the phone, take care of people who come in; but I also do health fairs, work with local schools and community centers, and do presentations on crime prevention and education.
She said she made many friends in the community, in part because of her bilingual establishment – “Since being here, I have made a very good connection with the community.
Mike Baraz, a Sonoma Police and Sonoma Sheriff’s Office sergeant, sees Floriano herself as a community asset. “Sylvia is more than a face that the public meets behind the window of the Valley station,” he said in an email to the Index-Tribune. “Sylvia is so integrated and attentive to the needs of our valley community that the Oversight Board and our administration saw that the closure of the valley submarine meant the loss of this asset. “
Sonoma Police CSO Jimmy Kough has held the post for several years but was on vacation and was unavailable for comment. But Baraz dismissed the idea that a CSO or substation was just a reporting hub. “This is a community that members of Parliament are called upon to serve and of which they are a part. There is a lot of history with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and the Sonoma Valley community in general. Overall, the community is supportive and full of good people.
“Due to the positive interaction with our audience and their support for us, the Supervisory Board continues to fund this substation.”
While she said the substations have been “on the chopping block about three times,” she said they’ve always managed to find the money to keep them open.
While the budget allocation goes to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, it has a positive impact on Sonoma City Police because their CSO, Jimmy Kough, is funded by the county office. Sonoma, like the city of Windsor, pays into the county sheriff’s budget to contract police services; a county-level reduction could impact Sonoma police personnel.