Sheriff steps up mall patrols through holidays

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sheriffSAN DIEGO — San Diego County Sheriff’s Department deputies and volunteers planned to patrol shopping centers around the county and will be out in force searching for suspected drunken drivers Friday and at various times throughout the Christmas season.

The extra patrols are part of the sheriff’s department’s annual “Holiday Watch” program that began this week and will extend through the start of the new year, authorities said.

“Criminals do not take the holidays off and neither will our deputies,” San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.

Sheriff’s officials said additional patrols were planned around parking lots, transit stops and other hot spots for criminal activity. Undercover operations were also planned to support uniformed patrols.

Sheriff’s deputies were also scheduled to work with the county probation and state parole departments to identify those who may be in violation of the terms of their release or sentence, officials said.

Holiday Watch events planned for Black Friday include a command post at the Vista Wal-Mart manned by deputies and senior volunteers, and a subsequent patrol for suspected drunken drivers on Vista streets; and horseback patrols of Ramona’s main shopping center parking lots and surrounding areas.