News.bytes Extra, issue 272

BLM working with local law enforcement agencies

Law enforcement is known as the "thin blue line" -- or, in the case of BLM, the thin brown line. With limited staff and hundreds of thousands of acres to cover, cooperation with other agencies is crucial. The BLM Hollister Field Office has re-entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the San Benito County Sheriff that allows the BLM to work more effectively with the county, said Gerald Tuma, supervisory law enforcement officer for BLM's Hollister Field Office. The office has similar agreements with other jurisdictions and is currently developing one with the California Department of Fish and Game.

Using GPS (Global Positioning System) units, law enforcement officers record the location of a marijuana garden on public lands managed by BLM.
Using GPS units, law enforcement officers record the location of a marijuana garden on public lands managed by BLM.

The sheriff's office renewed the agreement late last year and a coordination meeting was held earlier this year. Under California Penal Code 830.8, BLM officers aren't recognized as peace officers off federal land without an agreement with the local jurisdiction. With the agreement, BLM officers and county deputies can act as a team to conduct investigations and make arrests, Tuma said.

The agreement with the county has paid dividends in working on marijuana-production cases that involved both federal and non-federal lands. Last yea,r a joint anti-marijuana campaign was initiated by the Hollister Field Office and was known as "Operation Asbestos Bud." This title was due to the dozens of gardens that have been eradicated over the last 8 years on BLM lands in San Benito County that contain a high content of naturally-occurring asbestos. The joint operation last year was a partnership between the BLM, San Benito Sheriff's Office, and the Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team. The joint efforts in 2006 on and off federal lands led to the discovery and eradication of nearly 30,000 plants, two search warrants, two arrests, and the identification of many more subjects.


BLM California News.bytes, issue 272