Don’t Mess with the Sheriff


by Lou Binninger

California liberal legislators want to create citizen committees to rule over and supervise sheriffs elected in the state’s 58 counties. The ultimate goal is to see sheriffs appointed like Chiefs of Police, rather than elected.

            Sacramento democrat Kevin McCarty’s Assembly Bill 1185 would establish citizen oversight boards for elected sheriffs in each county and even an Inspector General to investigate complaints involving law enforcement. The oversight panel and the Inspector General could come to be by a decision of the Board of Supervisors or by an election if AB 1185 becomes law.

 The bill narrowly passed the Assembly. If it is approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom the Constitutional independence of the elected sheriff would be undermined.

The bill’s introduction states, “Existing law establishes the office of the sheriff in each county to preserve peace, and authorizes the sheriff to sponsor, supervise, or participate in any project of crime prevention, rehabilitation of persons previously convicted of crime, or the suppression of delinquency. Existing law requires a Board of Supervisors (BOS) to supervise the official conduct of all county officers and ensure that they faithfully perform their duties.”

AB 1185 would add a new level of governance over the sheriff.

The current requirement of the BOS to “supervise the official conduct of elected officials” etc. is a puzzler. Exactly what would the BOS do to address ethical, moral or legal failure by an elected official?

 The Sutter County BOS claimed they could do nothing after former District Attorney (DA) Carl Adams had a moral failure with an escort whom he granted immunity in a murder trial and then lied to a Yuba City Police Investigator about it. The DA’s office was said to be a sexually charged environment where one employee sued for sexual harassment and prevailed.

The Sutter County BOS then sided with troubled District Attorney Amanda Hopper in her mission to slander and fire investigator Jason Parker even after a Sacramento Administrative Law Judge agreed with Parker that he should get his job back.

The Sutter County BOS has also done nothing publically to address the Yuba City Unified School District’s dismissal of long-time teacher Jim Whiteaker for repeated improper contact with female students. Whiteaker is on the BOS and now is employed at Yuba County Office of Education teaching students.

The Sacramento Bee editorial board came out strongly in favor of curbing the independence of sheriffs and notes numerous abuses by sheriffs in various counties. The Bee cites trouble with sheriffs in Sacramento (Scott Jones), Fresno (Margaret Mims), LA (Lee Baca and Alex Villanueva) and even Trinity County (Bruce Haney).

The Bee says, “The power of the county sheriff is so unusual and prone to abuse that some sheriffs don’t even do the job once they’re elected. An investigation by The Sacramento Bee in 2018 found that Trinity County Sheriff Bruce Haney didn’t even reside in his own county, let alone California. He lived on 53 acres in Lebanon, Oregon. On ‘medical leave,’ Haney collected $9,000 per month in salary while feuding with that county’s board of supervisors, who had no way to hold Haney accountable.”

No normal person wants a corrupt or lawless sheriff. However, others believe that an elected strongly independent sheriff is needed to defend the Constitution when boards, councils and committees have been politicized or proven impotent.  And, if intolerable problems arise, then there is an election every four years or even a recall election option in extreme cases.

Many sheriffs rebuffed the Obama – Biden gun control moves by reaffirming their oath to defend the Constitution for their county. This is a current issue in California as many jurisdictions are declaring to be a ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’ city or county to uphold the Constitution regarding gun rights. And other sheriffs are rejecting the state’s ideas about protecting illegal aliens and not cooperating with federal authorities.

Sadly, the elected sheriff of Clark County, Nevada sided with the federal authorities in a land grab from the Bundy Family that nearly ended in armed conflict. The sheriff could have ordered the feds to stand-down. The media and the government made the Bundy’s out to be backward rebels but the feds lost in court and were reprimanded for abuse of power.

We need honest law enforcement leaders with a back bone to withstand state and federal authorities that make-up rules to suit their agenda. The deep state and corruption throughout our government are resistant to a myriad of inspectors and commissions.  Keep the elected sheriff with no citizens committee.