Deputy Desi Villanueva. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Deputy Desi Villanueva. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Attention San Juan Bautista:  There’s a new sheriff in town!
Well, a new full-time deputy sheriff anyway: Deputy Desi Villanueva has been with the San Benito County Sheriff’s Department for two years, after having previously worked at the Merced Police Department.

“I realized I wanted to work for a sheriff’s office a lot more,” Villanueva said. “I was so excited to come here. Hollister is a great place for me because I really appreciate small towns. And obviously, when the assignment came up for San Juan Bautista, I jumped at it as fast as I could.”

Villanueva first became interested in law enforcement because he liked the structure, and he found that he got considerable satisfaction from getting the chance to help people.

“I like that people trust us,” he said. They pretty much call us when all else fails or when they can’t get the help that they need. We can then exercise every resource we have, and I really like being able to solve problems, especially here on patrol.”

“Our new deputy is awesome,” said San Juan Bautista City Manager Don Reynolds, “and he’s really excited and enthusiastic about working for our town. He’s a lot more visible than we had in the past, and we’re so excited to have him on board.”

Villanueva was officially stationed in San Juan on May 24 but has worked in the city before that, both on regular patrols and for events like the recent Rib Cookoff. Currently, he will be scheduled to patrol at least on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 2 p.m. to midnight.

“There’s a lot of extra days that I will be working,” he said, “so you might see me here on a Sunday or on a Tuesday. We want the San Juan deputy to be visible and out on the street. I don’t want people just to see a patrol car. I want people to see me working, so I am going to be walking around as much as I can.”

One reason for the constant patrolling is to monitor some of the more common problems in San Juan, such as tourist traffic and visitors who might not understand how small the town is.

“We see them coming in here speeding,” he said, “and we have a lot of traffic and parking issues. I’m working with code enforcement to combat some of these problems, pretty much like any normal law enforcement agency. But things can be a lot different because we’re very small.”

Villanueva is also hoping his presence on the street will make people more comfortable about approaching him with law enforcement concerns.

“The businesses all have my cell number and can flag me down if there is a problem,” he said, “but anyone can come up to me and talk on a personal level. 100% of my effort, time, and energy is going to San Juan, and I am here to help solve its issues and make sure everything that the residents need me to do is handled the best I can.”

While he intends to be a visible presence in town if he is needed and cannot be found, Villanueva said that residents could reach him through existing channels by either calling 911 for emergencies or 831-636-4080 for non-emergencies.  

“If there’s anything that the people of San Juan want done or they want us to look at something,” he said, “call in and let us know. That’s what I’m here for, to help people combat the problems that they have.”

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