Three dozen sheriff’s officers and Metropolitan Transit System security officers board the trolley as it pulls into Lemon Grove station. They go car to car, person to person, checking that everyone paid a fare.
If you don’t have one, you’re asked to step off the train for more questioning. In the next few hours, they’ll write a bunch of citations, but the Sheriff’s Department isn’t actually concerned with $2.50 fares.
Its four-month “Operation Lemon Drop” was really about targeting a handful of the county’s 1,175 ex-inmates released from prison under realignment without parole or probation requirements— “the worst of the worst,” as Commander Dave Myers calls them.
The department combs available information to determine which ex-inmates are “prolific offenders” and sets up dragnets in public places they might pass through, like the Lemon Grove trolley station.