Warrant roundup comes up dry

Clovis Police officers Dale Rice, left, and Josh Parkin knock on the door of a trailer in the 400 block of Dawn Loop in south Clovis Friday night during a warrant sweep. The resident said he hadn’t seen the woman they were looking for in more than a month.

Sharna Johnson

A team of four Clovis Police Officers took to the streets with a list of names and addresses and one goal — to round up people with outstanding warrants.

After four hours spent knocking on doors and talking to people, the list hadn’t grown any shorter. Chief Steve Sanders said that’s OK.

“When you go fishing, sometimes you come up dry, and sometimes you go out and get a lot of fish,” he said.

“Even if we come up empty, at least we’re being proactive.”

Though not on an outstanding warrant, the teams did make one narcotics arrest toward the end of Friday night’s sweep, he said.

Sanders said his officers are doing the sweep under a Metro Drug Task Force Grant that pays overtime.

The sweeps started Thursday, with three consecutive nights of four-hour blocks planned, Sanders said, “Then we’ll wait a couple days, then hit them again three times.”

Sanders invited the Clovis News Journal along, escorting a reporter behind his officers for the first two hours.

The sweeps are a lot more low key than they sound, he said, with officers partnering to go to listed addresses and make contact where they can, getting information or scratching addresses that are no longer good.

During the planning briefing before officers took to the streets Friday, Lt. Jay Longley told them to focus on known narcotics users on the list.

“If nothing else, what we’ll do is let them know we’re looking for them,” he told the four officers who volunteered for the sweep, listening from their seats around the department’s briefing table.

The same block where a homicide took place nearly three years ago was the first stop for officers Robbie Telles and Sean Martinez, who attracted the attention of adults and children alike when they parked in front of a home in the 200 block of Pinon Street.

Walking back from the door where they had spoken to the resident, they were shaking their heads to indicate they hadn’t found the person they were looking for.

Next, they headed south to the 200 block of Davis Street, waving to a small boy playing in the yard as they knocked on the door. The longer they stood on the porch talking to the man who lived there, the more people stepped from inside to the porch to show identification.

Explaining to Sanders, they said the first man to come to the door said he was home alone with his sister. Pretending he only spoke Spanish, he broke down and switched to English after talking with officers a little, calling the rest of his family outside.

Laughing, Telles told Sanders, “I told him he had me looking pretty (dumb) trying to talk to him with my bad Spanish and he told me ‘you weren’t doing too bad.’”

But the individual they were looking for wasn’t there, Telles said, telling Sanders the next house was in the 500 block of Fifth Street.

Heading across town, the units circled the block twice until Telles angled his patrol unit next to Sanders’ and rolled down the window so Martinez could tell him the address they were looking for was now an empty lot.

That’s the problem with a lot of the warrants in the system, Sanders said, explaining there are two file drawers, of an unknown but vast number, of warrants shared between the city and the Curry County Sheriff’s Office.

In some cases the warrants stretch back years and a lot has changed in that time.

Thursday night, the first night of the sweep, Sanders said officers encountered much the same as they did Friday night. “They knocked on several doors and that’s when we learned most of these addresses are not valid anymore,” he said.

In another police unit a few blocks away, Officer Dale Rice joked that his partner Josh Parkin was in the “runner’s” seat because they were heading to a neighborhood on the southern edge of town. “We’ll pull up and everybody will run,” he said with a smile.

But the 400 block of Dawn Loop was quiet when they arrived.

After several knocks on a trailer door, a man answered and spoke to them briefly.

“The girl that we’re looking for wasn’t there,” he told Sanders. “He said the last time he saw her was a month ago.”

Over and over, the story repeated, with officers knocking, talking and making marks on their lists.

“The one thing these people don’t understand is the warrant never goes away,” Sanders said, following behind his officers on the way through town to another address.

While they were out, Martinez and Telles decided to stop at the home of Narcizo Soto Jr.’s mother.

Soto is accused of shooting at his girlfriend’s car Feb. 26, while her child was sitting in the front seat. Sanders said detectives have been actively searching for Soto since the incident.

Soto’s mother finally opened her door after several loud knocks and allowed them search her home.

“Mom said she hasn’t heard from him,” Telles said. Martinez pitched in that the woman had eventually admitted talking to her son, but told them Soto tries to keep her out of his troubles.

Soto and the girlfriend he is accused of shooting at have stayed together at a hotel in the last few days, Martinez told Sanders.

“After a couple of days these victims get back together with them and then they recant,” he said.

“I sure would like to get him off the street,” Telles said, shaking his head before returning to his unit to head to the next address.