FRESNO COUNTY, California (KSEE) – Arrests, parole and probation compliance checks, drone surveillance, and criminal investigations were a common sight Wednesday throughout eastern Fresno County.

Over 130 members of local and state law enforcement, helmed by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, worked together in what’s being called a “Gold Star Operation.”

The Gold Star Operation is a broad effort to help the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office catch up on enforcement probation, warrants, and criminal investigations, specifically major theft. Area of focus include Prather, Shaver Lake, Auberry, Squaw Valley, Dunlap, and other nearby communities.

The officers divided up into multi-agency teams for a single day massive patrol of the Central Valley foothills all in an effort to make their presence known in a notably underserved area in terms of law enforcement due to its remote location. One sergeant says the operation will make a huge difference for law enforcement who already patrol this vast remote area of the county.

“The deputies that are working up there are doing a great job but they need a little bit of help to help maintain things and help get things under control or help with investigations,” said Sgt. Jeff Stricker of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.

Stricker is a 20 year veteran of the FCSO. He says prior to today’s Gold Star Operation, mountain and foothill communities have seen an increase in a need to hold previous offenders accountable.

“Some of these people that we’re going after have been causing issues in the community,” Stricker said.

More than 100 suspects or offenders were targeted in the operation. Many encounters were largely peaceful. In one instance Stricker’s team did a compliance check on two people where one individual was on probation for attempted robbery and the other out on parole for assault with a deadly weapon. The compliance check went over smoothly with no issues. FCSO confirmed that approximately 20 arrests total were made throughout the day, however.

“If we have to arrest them or violate them on their warrants or probation status it ultimately helps keep the community safer,” Stricker said.

A common theme of Wednesday’s operation was simply keeping tabs on where offenders and repeats offenders were living.

For Stricker, whether it’s serving an arrest warrant or checking on a previous offender, he feels the operation will have a positive impact on public safety in Fresno county’s mountain and foothill communities. 

“Sometimes areas such as Friant and some of the mountains don’t see a whole lot of law enforcement present,” he said. “It let’s the community know ‘hey we’re still here,’ working for them and trying to keep their community safe.