The Sheriff’s Department has started setting up large-scale, public dragnets at trolley stations to catch ex-inmates breaking the law.

Voice of San Diego’s Andrew Keatts reported this week on the operations, where deputies swarm trolley stations, stopping each passenger to see if they’ve paid the $2.50 fare. Those who didn’t are pulled aside for further questioning, and arrested if cops think they’re guilty of another crime. The goal is to lock up certain people the Sheriff thinks are going to commit serious crimes before they actually do.

READ MORE: I’m a Middle-Aged White Woman. The Sheriff Didn’t Ask Me If I Was on Probation.

Deputies stopped about 16,000 people during these days-long operations at the Lemon Grove trolley stop. Fewer than 200 were ultimately arrested.

The department says this is just smart policing, a way to get in front of future crime. In this San Diego Explained, Keatts and NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia explain the circumstances that led to this approach, and just how the Sheriff’s Department decided on the Lemon Grove trolley station as the target location.

Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

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