Thanks to the Greater High Desert Chamber of Commerce for hosting last week’s “State of the County” address at the Hilton Garden Inn in Victorville.

It was my pleasure to join Board Chair Supervisor Dawn Rowe, CEO Luther Snoke, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Sheriff Shannon Dicus and San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson in providing an update on some of the positive things happening in San Bernardino County.

Here are a few highlights from the event:

Workforce/Economic Development

One of the County’s latest campaigns is “Opportunity Lives, Works and Plays Here.” This partnership between our Economic and Workforce Development Departments aims to assist businesses and nonprofits with hiring, relocating and/or expansion free of charge.

They also have an on-the-job training program that reimburses businesses with 50 percent of a new hire’s hourly wage and training expenses for up to 3 months!

Operation Consequences & Laura’s Law

Public safety continues to be a priority of the Board.

Since the launch of “Operation Consequences,” Sheriff Dicus said his department has made 791 felony arrests, seized 2,050 pounds of narcotics (200 pounds of that was fentanyl), rescued 28 human trafficking victims, made 32 human trafficking arrests, and recovered 210 ghost guns.

“Victorville is ranked 5th in the state for ghost guns,” said Dicus. “How do we know we are ranked 5th? Because our deputies are taking them off the streets.”

To combat the uptick in violence, addiction and homelessness, the Sheriff’s Department partnered with the Board of Supervisors and the Department of Behavioral Health to pass Laura’s Law.

“This law helps the folks who can’t feed themselves, can’t shelter themselves, and can’t protect themselves,” said Dicus. “It gets them before the court to have someone mentor them all the way up to a conservatorship.”

Sheriff Dicus is encouraging our residents to watch the State of California’s Public Safety Committee.

“They do everything about suspects and very little to help victims,” he said. “But I assure you that our deputies are proactively protecting you and focused on putting the bad folks in jail.”

Fentanyl & Illegal Marijuana Response

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, like the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, is aggressively targeting the fentanyl crisis.

“We need to hold fentanyl dealers accountable,” said District Attorney Jason Anderson. “We have delved very deeply with our schools, our health care providers, and behavioral health department to educate the public. There is no such thing as a safe street drug anymore. We want to make sure we’re doing all we can to educate our youth.”

Anderson added that San Bernardino County has become a state leader in illegal marijuana suppression.

“We have a dedicated team in our office to prosecute these cases vertically, and we’ve had great success with it,” said Anderson. “The County was recently asked by the Governor and Attorney General’s office to join the state’s cannabis enforcement task force. They want to know how we’ve had so much success in getting rid of the large marijuana grows in the High Desert. I don’t take the credit; it’s a collaborative effort with the Sheriff (and Code Enforcement). We are going to try to help other rural counties in the state with some of our best practices.”

New Homicide Unit

For the first time ever, the District Attorney’s office now has a dedicated homicide unit. “It was a $4 million ongoing budget request that the Supervisors and CEO’s office were on board with,” said Anderson.

The new homicide unit has a chief deputy district attorney, 6 deputy DAs, 3 investigators, 3 paralegals and several victim advocates solely dedicated to prosecuting murder cases.

“It was so important to create this unit because it would often take up to nine years to bring a murder case to trial,” said Anderson. “California is unique, but it’s not right. We wanted to speed up justice for families who are frankly tired of waiting to get their cases heard. This will bring closure more quickly. We are always thinking about our community, what’s best and what keeps you safe.”