Sheriff's Deputy Rick Jones, 26, is one who wears a badge in Ojai. He also lives there and grew up there. The kids wave to him in his squad car, and the people at the Village Pastry Shop know he likes his croissants with ham and cheese. Yes, the cops in Ojai eat croissants.
This is how a weekday work night went for Deputy Jones:
First, a 3 p.m. briefing in the substation staff room--four deputies coming on, four going off, and a row of black flashlights recharging along one wall as scuttlebutt is passed. All four deputies are to watch the city, two of them will monitor the less affluent surrounding neighborhoods as well.
The scuttlebutt: A fancy Italian motorcycle--bright red, worth something like $15,000--was stolen from in front of MK's restaurant the night before. And a man in a red Triumph was seen the afternoon before at Camp Comfort, a park on the edge of town, giving money to children and suggesting trips to Magic Mountain.
Then it was off to the streets. Outside the city limits, Jones arrested a 28-year-old Oak View man for throwing a piece of pottery at another man, and looked over signs of small-scale juvenile vandalism in a Meiners Oaks rental residence. He also assisted California Highway Patrol officers and an ambulance crew when an 8-year-old boy was hit by a black Camaro in Meiners Oaks.
Calls in the unincorporated areas can range from the smallest thing to a hostage situation, Jones said, and they are what make a deputy's job stressful and challenging.
But on this night, inside Ojai, almost nothing happened.
* A little after 4 p.m., a lifeguard called from Nordhoff High School, saying she had been threatened by three young men from the area, who were refusing to leave. Jones rolled up in his car, and then a second deputy rolled up, and then a third. The young men were gone. The deputies got descriptions and left.
* At 5 p.m., Michelle Wells, 15, called in a discovery. On her way back from a racquet club with friends, she had seen a red glint in a ditch next to Buckboard Lane. A motorcycle. She called authorities and when deputies arrived-- one, two, three cars--they saw the word "Ducati" on the gas tank. The stolen cycle. Unable to hot-wire it, the thieves had pushed it several blocks and discreetly parked it beneath an oak tree across from a half-million-dollar house on Buckboard Lane, taking care to use the kickstand. While another deputy gathered information, Jones gave Wells a ride home.
* About 9 p.m., Jones stopped for dinner at Wendy's, which sits just outside of town because drive-throughs are forbidden inside city limits.
* At 9:50 p.m., another deputy made a traffic stop at Ojai Avenue and Signal Street, and cited the driver for no tail lights, no driver's license on hand, and an expired registration.
After eight hours on the job, Jones showed on his log four calls, one observe, and one felony arrest--the pottery-thrower in Oak View. A slot was open in the next shift, and he decided to pick it up and work the whole night.
* At 3:15 a.m., Jones pulled a driver over at Ojai Avenue and Country Club Drive, and wrote out a citation for lack of auto insurance and driving with an expired registration.
* At 3:39 a.m., another deputy made a traffic stop at Ojai Valley Inn.
And at some point, someone complained about an illegally parked car that turned out to be parked perfectly legally.
That was about it for the night in the city of Ojai: one stolen motorcycle recovery, one suspicious circumstances call at Nordhoff High School, three traffic stops and a legally parked car. "An unusually slow night," Jones said.