Recruitment and Retention

First and foremost, there needs to be a more efficient and effective recruiting process for sheriff deputies. The Sheriff's Office needs approximately 250 deputies to operate efficiently and effectively.  Currently the Enforcement Bureau has seen a mass exodus and are staffed at 150-175 deputies below the approved coded positions.  The Custody Bureau is also in dire need of approximately 100 deputies.  These vacancies are currently being filled by deputies working overtime which is causing the budget to soar. 

My plan to recruit and retain deputies will be based on common sense. First, I will present the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors with a plan to merge the enforcement bureau and the custody bureau.  Moving forward, I would like to have one academy, and everyone will graduate with a POST certificate.  Graduates will work at the jails for 6-8 months.  Then they will train on patrol, and then in the courts.  The current custody bureau deputies will also be given the opportunity to complete additional training to obtain a POST certificate.  Upon graduation, from the POST academy, they will sign a contract and commit to a minimum of 5 years with the Sheriff's Office.  If they opt to leave earlier, they will be required to pay a portion of their training fees back to the agency.  

With an actual retention program in place, the Backgrounds Unit will not have to rush applicants through the hiring process.  They will have ample time to conduct a thorough investigation of each applicant and have a greater success rate of weeding out the "bad apples".  The most important quality I want in each applicant is for them to value human life.

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A Need for Change

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a no confidence resolution for Sheriff Laurie Smith.  As a 19-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, I found this unprecedented action sad but not surprising.

Smith’s tenure has been marred by mismanagement and corruption.  Her actions have hurt the reputation of the Department that I’ve served for the better part of 20 years. 

My fellow deputies work hard to serve Santa Clara County.  Smith’s actions tarnish not only her reputation but the Department by association.  It’s sad, and my fellow deputies deserve better.

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Tackling Problems in Our Jails

As your new Sheriff, my first priority will be an independent and thorough review of law enforcement practices and management of our county jails.  The tragedies in our jails over the past six years is the most glaring example of the need for common sense reforms. 

I support the need for a civilian watchdog to audit law enforcement practices and management of our county jails.

Our deputies need support in the form of more thorough and ongoing training. 

The Sheriff continues to ward off efforts by the County Supervisors to implement the reforms that were recommended. 

Our jails need to be about more than housing people for a period of time and then sending them back to the same situation. 

We need social workers and counseling available to inmates, as well as education and job placement opportunities. Mental health is a key part of this.  We need to establish and fund a program that links law enforcement and social and medical services.

We also need to rebuild trust with the community and implement education outreach prior to someone becoming part of the system.

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Solving Financial Problems

Our taxpayers deserve better than a Sheriff’s office that is millions of dollars over budget.  A resolution to the financial mismanagement has been promised for the past eight years, but nothing has changed. 

The Department has paid more than $13 million in settlements because of the tragedies that have occurred in our jails

The mismanagement of the Sheriff’s Department budget has cost our Santa Clara County taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

If all of us managed our household budget the way the Sheriff has managed hers, we’d be struggling to pay mortgages and rent and put food on the table for our families.

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Providing Mental Health Services

You need look no further than the Michael Hogan tragedy to see the need for a mental health/wellness center to be constructed in lieu of a new jail facility in Santa Clara County.

A report recently submitted to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, advocated a new 535 bed facility to replace the Main Jail South.  This proposal is a slap in the face to community groups and civil rights advocates in particular who met with elected officials just last year to promote a treatment center for people with mental health issues and those who struggle with alcohol and drug use disorders. 

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, close to a third of California’s incarcerated residents have a documented serious mental illness. Many would agree that prisons and jails in our state have become default mental institutions.

There are hundreds and hundreds of residents in county jails across California who wait months or even years to be transferred to a state hospital. 

According to the department of State Hospitals, a large percentage of the residents who were found incompetent to stand trial were facing charges related to homelessness and untreated psychosis.

A new behavioral health facility in Santa Clara County is not only necessary, but long overdue. Furthermore, I think it should not be built near the Main Jail, but at our Elmwood facility. Once a normal baseline is achieved, there is no reason the residents in this facility can become part of the job placement and training programs available to other residents. 

In addition, having a new wellness facility would also benefit every Santa Clara County resident. A 2018 study showed that providing more access to mental health treatment programs makes entire communities better off and is more cost-effective.  More mental health treatment will reduce violence and property crimes and in turn could lower incarceration rates. 

As Sheriff, I would of course like to manage a new jail.  However, I have pledged to be honest with the public.  Santa Clara County needs a new mental health facility a lot more than a new jail.

I urge our politicians to reject the new jail proposal and support the alternative proposal supporting a mental health facility. 

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Solutions for Community and Social Justice Issues

We need better cooperation between the Sheriff’s department and the police departments in our municipalities, and we need better outreach to our communities, especially outreach to our communities of color.

Our Asian neighbors, our Jewish neighbors and our LBGTQ+ communities need to feel safe.  Our black and brown communities need to feel safe and valued.

People want to see a Sheriff’s Department that represents them, looks like them and understands them.

Our police are doing a difficult job in our municipalities helping to keep our communities safe, but under the current Sheriff, cooperation and communication with our police departments is practically nonexistent.  Our local police need our support.

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California Police Reform Legislation

I support both California SB-2 and SB-16, which were recently passed by the California State Legislature.  SS-B 2: Aims to implement a statewide system for revoking the license of police officers who commit serious misconduct, preventing bad cops who leave one law enforcement agency from being employed by any other police agency.

SB 16 would make a sustained finding involving force that is unreasonable or excessive, and any sustained finding that an officer failed to intervene against another officer using unreasonable or excessive force, subject to disclosure.

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