Imperial County Sheriff Fred Miramontes (right) chats with Heber Public Utility District Director Helen Diaz-Molina during “Donuts with a Deputy,” a community outreach event put on by the Sheriff’s Office at the Heber Public Utility District Recreation Center on Wednesday morning, Dec. 6. | DELFINO MATUS PHOTO
HEBER — Imperial County Sheriff Fred Miramontes and his deputies welcomed Heber residents to “Donuts with a Deputy” to grab a glazed, a cup of joe and get to know the deputies who patrol the area and to discuss any issues residents might have.
The donut session, on Wednesday morning, Dec. 6, at the Heber Public Utility District Recreation Center, was intended to provide a platform for people to come together with sheriff’s deputies and engage in meaningful discussions and create a sense of inclusivity and unity within the community of Heber.
“It’s great for outreach. To meet the community members on a one-and-one basis and make them feel at ease. We bring them some information and listen to their concerns so we can address them. We are here to listen without a timetable, unlike some of these meetings where we only get a few minutes to speak and not everything is always answered,” Miramontes said on Wednesday.
“It is more than just about enforcement, it’s more about networking and providing the people with information and whatever they need. Making sure their concerns are heard is a priority,” he said.
The event was put on by the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office with the help of the Heber Public Utility District, which lent out the venue in support of the Sheriff’s Office. “Donuts with a Deputy” is one of many outreach events the Sheriff’s Office has put on throughout the year in effort to help with outreach to the communities.
“I think this is great. There should be more events like this for the people to come out to, so they could get to know our local deputies that we all see around our little town. Community members should be comfortable and be able to talk to our deputies,” Heber Public Utility District Director and community member Helen Diaz-Molina said. “Maybe (this event could occur during) some later hours so the community members that are working would be able to make it.”
“Today’s event was good. We wanted to do something separate from our ‘Coffee with a Cop,’ so we could have more of our staff here available to talk to the community. I think it was a pretty good turnout. I wish it was more people coming. I know for the future we have more plans to make it better,” sheriff’s Lt. Murad Masad said. “It has been a pretty good success. Many people have told us about their concerns and were going to try to get more patrol guys out there to address those issues that they have.
“We are here to let the community know we are not just out there patrolling the streets, but we are more approachable, you can talk to us, let us know their concerns and at the end of the day we are here for them. We are here to protect and serve the communities we serve,” the lieutenant said.
The Sheriff’s Office makes its presence felt by being involved in Heber community events. From deputies helping move bales of hay for the fall maze at Dogwood Elementary to helping with the Heber Public Utility District’s Fall Fiesta and parade, the Sheriff’s Office has been supportive of the community.
“The ‘Donuts with a Deputy’ event were a collaboration between the ICSO and HPUD, and I thought it was a pretty good event. Community leaders showed up and also different members of the community to talk to law enforcement and to see the human side behind the badge,” HPUD office manager and lifelong resident Moises Cardenas said. “I think this is an important event that they put on to make sure the community is comfortable with the Sheriff’s Office, especially in a community like Heber that can sometimes be underrepresented. It is good to have a full force of sheriff’s officers to come out.”
Staff Writer Delfino Matus sits on the Board of Directors of the Heber Public Utility District.