There is often a stigma that comes with being an armed law enforcement officer. This stigma seems to be amplified in rural, socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. However, thanks to the Sheriff’s Public Outreach Team (SPOT) of Tulare County, law enforcement is building a foundation of trust and transparency between the community and the department.
The SPOT Team began in May with more than a dozen community leaders from diverse backgrounds and from all over the county coming together to share their concerns and new ideas with the Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.
Early on, the subject of traffic stops came up during a roundtable discussion. One person on the team asked the Sheriff why drivers have to keep their hands on the steering wheel when they get pulled over by police. To law enforcement, it’s a question of safety but to citizens it can be a puzzler.
SPOT Team member Lali Moheno asked the Sheriff to make a video to explain why it’s important for drivers to keep their hands on the wheel during a traffic stop. The video shares with the public the dangers of being an armed officer. The video also displays the proper procedure of a traffic stop, which includes passengers and driver placing their hands within an officers view.
This simple request by Moheno turned into a public service announcement about traffic stops in the form of a professionally produced video in both English and Spanish which was viewed by hundreds of people during the Tulare County Fair and the Farmworker Women’s Conference. The video will soon be available on the Sheriff’s website for the public to view. Additionally the department is working toward integrating the video into schools throughout Tulare County.
According to Sheriff Boudreaux, “This is a product of the committee and our efforts to continue to try and get this message out.”
Moheno said she’s very impressed with the Sheriff and she’s honored to be on the team.
“The Sheriff’s Department has a very difficult job to do and there are a lot of community eyes on them,” she said. “I’m so happy to help the Sheriff.”
Committee members offer guidance and input and assist with the gathering and distribution of information to improve community relations for the Sheriff’s Office and the community.
“The Sheriff considers our opinions very important to him,” Moheno said.
The current SPOT committee is slated to meet for the last time in April. SPOT committee members serve for one year before nominating a community member to take their place.