By Craig W. Anderson 

The Agriculture, Gangs & Narcotics Enforcement Team – AGNET – is a crime fighting unit within the Sheriff’s Office that will, said Sheriff Pat Withrow, “blanket the county and work closely with our community cars and beat cars that are assigned, so it’s extra bodies out there.”

AGNET is a very new, aggressive, proactive team that will identify trends developed by department analysis and reports in order to prevent crime before it occurs, according to the sheriff. Withrow said AGNET has combined various units into one and manpower is on the streets when analysis has determined crime is most likely to take place. Ag crime detectives will be working during the times when crime is expected to occur outside of the traditional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business hours.

AGNET praised

“AGNET’s a great idea,” said Ken Vogel, SJFB second vice president, former San Joaquin County supervisor and walnut and cherry farmer. “It expands and improves the Central Valley’s and the county’s fight against crime. This is really good provided it doesn’t cut the rural/ag crime task force.”

AGNET training

The Sheriff’s Office said through a spokesperson that AGNET has absorbed the rural crimes task force and “effectively expanded upon it.”

The initial training week for the AGNET unit has been completed; the goal was to bring the deputies coming from patrol assignment up to speed on more thorough investigative tactics, as well as refresh the tactics of those who have been in investigation for a while. “The team is excited about the opportunities a team like this present,” Withrow said. “Essentially we have a larger group of Deputies handling investigations; this will lead to completing more cases more thoroughly.”

This could, he said, “Possibly lead to more cases being taken on by an investigative unit, as well as allowing the unit to have ample ancillary time to conduct proactive enforcement activities.”

Tradition continues

Vogel said AGNET will continue the tradition the rural crimes task force has practiced. Members of AGNET will attend Farm Bureau meetings regularly which will provide the opportunity for information to flow both ways.

Enthusiasm for future

SJFB President Jim Ferrari said the rural environment is a vulnerable one and “AGNET’s definitely a positive and excellent crime fighting unit that will be of direct benefit to our agricultural community.” 

Vogel said, “This will put more eyes out there. I feel certain the entire ag community will be grateful and supportive of AGNET’s augmented and proactive performance. Let’s face it: the county can take whatever help we can get. I think AGNET coupled with SB 224 (see page 5) has the potential to be very effective in fighting crime.”