CHIEF’S CORNER | Capt. James Fryhoff

Backcountry Patrol

Lockwood Valley Station as seen from Copter 6.

Lockwood Valley Station as seen from Copter 6.

As Chief of Ojai, I am also the Captain for the unincorporated Ojai Valley communities of Meiners Oaks, Oak View, Upper Ojai, Miramonte, and Casitas Springs.  But did you know, that I also oversee the Lockwood Valley area — an hour north of Ojai on Highway 33? Here is a brief description of the Lockwood Valley Station.

“Wow, I can’t believe you guys patrol way out here.” This is a routine statement our deputies hear while on patrol in Lockwood Valley.

The Sheriff’s Office has a small substation in rural northern Ventura County in Lockwood Valley. The Lockwood Valley Sheriff’s Station (Station 11) is staffed with two resident deputies (3W and 3W1) and their families.  The deputies’ spouses also work as extra help for the Sheriff’s Office as Sheriff’s Communication Specialist I (aka Dispatcher).

Lockwood Valley’s jurisdiction includes approximately 610 square miles of land with a majority of the area falling within the Los Padres National Forest (LPNF).  Within this area, there are several small unincorporated communities consisting mostly of large parcel ranches.  There are approximately 1,500 residents who occupy their properties in this jurisdiction year round.  The Lockwood Valley patrol area borders Los Angeles, Kern, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties.  On a typical day of patrol, it would not be uncommon to cross five counties — Ventura County included.

Within these areas there is an extensive network of designated off highway vehicle (OHV) trails and trail systems such as, but not limited to Ballinger Canyon, Quatal Canyon, Apache Canyon, Dry Canyon, Grade Valley, Lockwood Creek, Frazier Mountain, Miller Jeep, Gold Hill, Alamo Mountain, and the Ortega OHV trail.  Additionally, more than half of the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area (HVSVRA) is located within Ventura County near Lockwood Valley.

The Lockwood Valley Sheriff’s Station sits at 5,150’ above sea level.  The station is positioned at the base of the tallest mountain in Ventura County – Mount Pinos (8,847’) – which means .. .it snows in Ventura County.  This generates unique calls for service during the winter months and can complicate some of the more routine patrol operations.

At 5,100 feet above sea level, Lockwood Valley gets frequent winter snowfalls.

At 5,100 feet above sea level, Lockwood Valley gets frequent winter snowfalls.

ATVs and 4x4 are necessary to effectively patrol Ventura County's backcountry.

ATVs and 4×4 are necessary to effectively patrol Ventura County’s backcountry.

The Lockwood Valley Sheriff’s Station is currently outfitted with three 4×4 patrol vehicles, three dual sport (KTM 350) motorcycles, two ATVs, and a Polaris RZR side-by-side.  Lockwood deputies use all of the above equipment for routine patrol, off-highway vehicle patrol, and calls for service in remote areas of the Los Padres National Forest.

Calls for service in Lockwood Valley include — but are not limited to — search and rescue operations, domestic violence incidents, neighbor disputes, burglaries, thefts, auto thefts, illegal shooting activity, illegal hunting and/or fishing, illegal marijuana cultivation, narcotics violations, vegetation and structure fires, traffic collisions, medical aids, death investigations, and mutual aid requests with surrounding agencies.  The Lockwood deputies investigate crimes occurring within northern Ventura County, author and serve search warrants, and work collaboratively with other investigators and agencies to accomplish the Sheriff’s mission.

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