Law Enforcement Reform
My Plan for the Sheriff’s Office

Law enforcement, as a profession, is in dire need of comprehensive reform so that it finally accomplishes its mission to “protect and serve.” This means to protect and serve the entire community, not just certain parts of it.  We must safeguard the most vulnerable members of our society.  Changes need to be made from a foundational level.  This must encompass not just policy and procedure, but also hiring, training, and retention of law enforcement personnel.  We must take every action necessary to move away from a warrior cop ethos to one that is seen as more of a guardian cop.  My plan will not just lead to operational and personnel improvements, but will also work to improve law enforcement’s standing in the community and re-establish us as community first responders.  As first responders our primary mission should be one of protector and helper in our communities – someone who values life above all else.

GOALS

  1. Improve the perception of law enforcement through policy and operational changes to better reflect the goal of protecting and serving all community members.
  2. Make foundational changes to the recruiting, hiring, and training of all deputies.
  3. Bring on experts in human resources and finance so that the office runs like a professional organization.
  4. Increase and improve outreach to the residents of Santa Clara County through community leaders who are trusted voices as well as the media. 
  5. Increase our  involvement with education and youth programs.

SPECIFICATIONS

Organizational

Currently the office runs as two separate entities, enforcement and custody.  Enforcement operates with “general orders” while custody operates with “policies and procedures.”  I would merge the two operational structures. 

I fully support Senator Beckers’s bill SB 1000 and will immediately move to use unencrypted radios, with general orders in place to protect information deemed sensitive by the Department of Justice (as accomplished by the California Highway Patrol).  I would release all requested documents to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, and any documents that are requested in the future.  There will be full transparency and accountability without equivocation. 

I would like to have a new civilian oversight committee brought together as I am uncomfortable with MIchael Gennaco and his history in Southern California.  There must be free and open communication between the sheriff’s office and civilian oversight to regain public trust, but civilian oversight must also be, in itself, impartial..

Law enforcement must be fully transparent.  I will keep meticulous and accurate data of law enforcement misconduct and use of force incidents.  Training policies and procedures will improve drastically.  The office will have nothing to hide.  We will call out any misconduct and handle it as a crime.  I will maintain a fully engaged and transparent relationship with the community and the media.

Foundational Changes

Currently the Sheriff’s Office operates as two separate divisions, enforcement and custody.  This is unlike the vast majority of sheriffs departments across the country, I would merge the two divisions and have only one (1) POST (Police Officer Standards and Training) academy.  All deputies will need a complete understanding of both divisions. 

The recruiting process must adapt to the times.  While we will not preclude recruiting criminal justice majors or former military, as it is a common practice, we will also start looking at college graduates with degrees in social sciences, history, psychology, etc.  There will be a concerted effort to recruit candidates who are proven critical thinkers and also possess the physical attributes to perform the job. 

Background investigations and psychological assessments will be much more thorough and complete. This process will take time, but we need to be absolutely certain we are hiring the right people.

All new recruits will go through a full POST academy.  Current custody deputies will be given the opportunity to finish a full POST academy or can remain in custody only.  We currently run two separate academies, one for enforcement and one for custody.  Each academy has three training deputies.  By having only one academy I will be eliminating the need for three deputy assignments, allowing for three more highly-trained deputies on the line.  After graduation, each new deputy will be qualified by POST standards to work both enforcement and custody.

New recruit training will entail:

  • 6 months in POST academy.
  • 1 year assigned to jails:
    • Phase 1: Main Jail; 5 weeks day shift
    • Phase 2: Main Jail; 5 weeks night shift
    • Phase 3: Elmwood: 5 weeks day shift
    • Phase 4: Elmwood: 5 weeks night shift
    • Phase 5: remaining 7 months under Jail Training Officer
  • 1 year assigned to enforcement:
    • Phase 1: 12 weeks Phase 1 trainee
    • Phase 2: 12-16 weeks Phase 2 trainee
    • Phase 3: remaining 28-32 weeks Phase 3 trainee
  • 3 years in either enforcement, custody, or combination of the two. Deputies must have 5 years of quality service to apply for specialty positions.
  • Academy instructors and training officers will be held accountable for staff training.

Ongoing Training and Continuing Education Changes:

  • Crisis Intervention Training: Academy 16 hours; 4 hour refresher every year.
  • Implicit Bias Training: 4 hours every year.
  • Defense Tactics: Academy 2-3x per week; 8 hour refresher every year; offer ongoing training during off hours.
  • Critical Race Theory: 4 hours every year.

Retention Policies:

  • Implement a 5-year retention program:
    • Commitment signed prior to academy by recruit.
    • If a recruit laterals out prior to the 5 years, a portion of their training costs will be paid back by the deputy.
    • No fees if dropped or terminated in that time frame.
  • Increase compensation through a more accurate budget and eliminating lawsuits through proper recruitment and training. Compensation should strive to reflect the Bay Area’s cost of living.
  • Social programs for deputies and families: housing, education, etc.
  • Create an organizational structure that takes care of the entire community, one that deputies can take pride in. Create a leadership team that is looked up to as role models and mentors.

Deputy Welfare

  • Mandatory psychological evaluation after every critical incident.
  • Annual psychological evaluation.
  • Implement family support services for sworn staff.
  • Implement an overall wellness program for sworn staff and families.

Structural Operations

I will bring in experts in human resources and finance to advise in those specialty areas.  No law enforcement officer is trained in either of those jobs.  Having professionals who work in those disciplines will guarantee that budgets are complete and accurate.  These professionals will make sure that employees are treated correctly under California State laws, and will abide by those laws.

A quality HR generalist will also be able to keep the administration abreast of the possible retirement calendar, allowing us to stay on top of recruiting needs.

Jail Operations and Recidivism

No one goes into life wanting to be a criminal or do illegal things.  Typically, those actions are taken purely to survive.  We need to give each inmate the tools necessary to succeed so that once released, they are prepared for a quality career.

  • High School/GED, Jr. College, trade school training for inmates.
  • Work with corporations in the area about quality job opportunities.
  • Ongoing social work with released inmates during the acclimation process that comes along with a new job.

If we make sure that outgoing inmates are afforded education and opportunities, we will make a real impact in reducing recidivism.

Finally, addressing the school to prison pipeline must be a mission of law enforcement.  Working with counties and municipalities to ensure that all students receive a quality K-12 education is an absolute necessity.  We need to ensure that kids are educated and informed about options for advanced education.  This should be the duty of all public servants.

Mental Health Inmates: the overpriced new jail is not the way to go.  The sheriff’s office is over budget now, asking for millions more dollars for food and other custody costs, and has paid tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits.  There are numerous county owned buildings sitting vacant.  All can be easily and cheaply retrofitted as mental health wellness centers staffed by qualified personnel, with security provided by deputies.

MILESTONES

Initial Pain

Despite the fact that there is already a staff shortage, I will not rush to make hires, I do not want deputies who have lateralled out, retired, or simply quit for any reason.  If you weren’t committed to law enforcement the first time, that says something.  I only want deputies who are fully committed and have bought into my vision of law enforcement. They must be completely committed to serving the entire community.  As stated, my recruiting, background, psychological assessment, and training structure will take time.  There very well could be the need, in the short term, for over-time to make sure we are maintaining quality service. 

Quality Staff from Recruiting and Training

Initial recruitment of executive staff (assistant sheriffs and undersheriff).  Reach 80% full staffing within two years under new criteria.  This takes into account attrition post election and expected retirements.  The goal is 100% staffing by the end of the 4-year term.

Improved Perception of Law Enforcement

New, more progressive leadership coupled with new, more progressive staffing.  This staff will be more involved with the community through a number of outreach programs.  Perception will begin to change from us merely doing our job correctly, professionally, and compassionately.

Adaptable Budget

A properly  implemented budget plan should  take all contingencies into account and must include flexibility for changes.  We should never run over budget.

No Lawsuits, No Scandals

Proper vetting of deputies, complete and quality training will absolutely lead to fewer incidents involving use of force complaints/incidents, deaths, and malpractice.  Full transparency and cooperation with true civilian oversight will eliminate scandals and tragedies.

Deputy Welfare

Wellness programs will ensure that deputies can perform their essential duties as first responders.  It will also work towards keeping them injury free and elongating their careers.  This will result in lowering health care costs.  Social and psychological wellness programs will ensure that deputies properly deal with difficult or stressful work-related issues, while also ensuring that families of deputies know that they are supported. 

Recidivism Lowered, Job Market Improved, Local College Admissions Up

It will take some time to implement in-custody programs and get inmate buy-in.  Within one year we would strive toward 75% participation with in-custody education programs and post-custody job placement and social programs.  That would be (at time of publishing) 1950 inmates in education and job placement programs.  We would be adding 1950 careers/taxpayers into the community, while eliminating them from the system.

Involvement with local K-12 education, and improved access to college funding will lead to more children in our community attending local junior colleges and universities, with financial help provided when needed.

Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) Permits:

View the detailed plan of the CCW permit system I would seek to implement once elected as Sheriff.