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July 12, 2024

Inmates refurbish police vehicles

GREENFIELD — The Correctional Training Facility at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad has been training inmates to refurbish local vehicles, such as those for the Greenfield Police Department.

According to Greenfield Police Investigator David Doglietto, the department reaches out and there is a “certain bond” between the two departments when in need of projects. The department pays for the materials used, but it is still “considerable less cost.” 

“The inmates are very attentive to details,” Doglietto said.

The most recent project that the inmates did was in December 2016. It took them four months to refurbish two veteran patrol vehicles. Interim Chief Anthony Sollecito’s car is one of the refurbished vehicles. 

The GPD is in negotiations now to send the CTF more vehicles.

The GPD is “extremely grateful,” said Doglietto. It saved the department money and “took two vehicles that would otherwise have been put out of commission and extended their usefulness to the department.” 

One of the vehicles had extensive rust damage. The refurbished vehicles become unmarked cars that typically will not be used for patrol. Instead, the officers will use the unmarked vehicles to go to court and trainings and attend to other administrative duties. 

According to Doglietto, the unmarked vehicles are “less conspicuous.”

Precautions are taken when vehicles are sent to CTF. For example, the department does not send equipped cars; sensitive equipment is removed, such as radios, cameras, Wi-Fi, laptops, weapons, ammunition and any documentation that could be misused.

According to the description provided by Lt. Roland Ramon, public information officer, the Career Technical Education program that the inmates receive is quite extensive. Offered at the Correctional Training Facility, A/B and C are vocational auto body, heating/ventilation/air, refrigeration (HVAC), plumbing, construction, technology, welding, electronics technology, masonry, electrical works, carpentry, computer literacy, paint and small engine repair.   

“All building trades are accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research,” said Ramon. 

When the inmates complete the CTE programs, upon release, they take with them a Vocational Portfolio to take to prospective employers.

Ramon praised the work that Instructor Cesar Renteria does with the inmates, saying that he and the inmate trainees had “done an exceptional job in restoring the Greenfield Police Department vehicle.”

He added, “We are honored to give back to the local community. We look forward to our continued partnership.” 

Renteria has been a Vocational Auto Body instructor at the Correctional Training Facility for over 20 years. 

“The most rewarding part of my job and working with inmates is teaching them a skill they are able to learn and obtain employment once they are released from prison,” Renteria said. 

With the rewards come the challenges. Renteria typically works with 31 students in the shop, all working on multiple vehicles in different parts of the shop. 

“My job is also to keep everyone safe with tools, hazardous materials and assorted equipment,” he said. 

When asked to comment on a particular success story he remembered, he stated, “I have several inmates that have completed the Auto Body Program and paroled to various regions of the state.”

Renteria asks his students to call him at the prison and let him know how they are doing. According to Renteria, “All that have called are working, being productive, in a body shop.”

“By having the Vocational Programs in the prison system, with inmates learning a trade, it reduces the rate of recidivism,” he said. “I enjoy being able to share my skills with the incarcerated inmates. My inmates are very eager to learn the trade. This makes my job rewarding and enjoyable.”

Like Ramon, Renteria talked about giving back to the community through the work that the inmates do on the police department cars.