1. Q) Why does the US have more people in prison than any other developed nation?
A) I believe we have such a relatively high prison population due to several reasons. I believe we are essentially a peaceful society that holds to our high values for public safety and welfare. We have a civilized population that generally respects the rule of laws created by our democratic nation. Police corruption is not tolerated here and criminals are generally found out, arrested and held to answer for illegal deeds, particularly when they victimize other law-abiding people. Here the police do a professional job by-and-large and the public expects the guilty to be held accountable. There are numerous other socio-economic reasons too. They include the need for better educational programs and more involved family interactions, active and responsible parenting. Additionally, the enforcement of many current illegal drug laws has filled our penal facilities. Programs such as drug court, supporting rehabilitation instead of jail time, is an expanding alternative to jail for many drug violators. I expect that in the future more-and-more people will be offered that route instead of incarceration. As far as the stringent drug laws and related sentences, those are determined and created by the electorate. The lawmakers will change the laws and corresponding penalties based on the directions they receive from our general public. The current laws and penalties, although ever changing, are in place based on the general public’s views. They can and should change as the public’s opinions and views change on each law.
2. Q) What laws would you like to not have to enforce?
A) In a utopian society, I wish we did not have to have any laws to enforce. As that does not appear to be a possibility, there are some laws that while on the books, I don’t necessarily look forward to having to enforce. Most of them relate to individual preferences, especially when in the confines of their own home or some while driving your vehicle. I believe that what people do within their home, so long as no one else is victimized in any way, should be up to the adults in the house. Things like domestic violence, child abuse, predation from child pornographers, internet crimes; etcetera, should not be tolerated anywhere. Some laws, sometimes referred to as sin or morality laws, I believe should be determined by responsible adults in the home. While I personally believe wearing a motorcycle helmet and seat belt are good things, and I understand the reasons for the laws (to prevent the public having to pay for lifelong health care for indigent parties who become severely injured), I understand where people should have discretion in their own safety, just not when it places others in jeopardy. Especially children and the elderly or otherwise disabled.
3. Q) What is the most frequent non-traffic crime in Sierra County?
A) Usually violations such as battery, burglary/theft, domestic violence and vandalism are the most common non-traffic related crimes in Sierra County.
4. Q) What is community policing?
A) Community policing is the concept and philosophy of having local officers involved in the community that they serve. Having the public be on a first name basis with the local peace officers. Officers who are not simply employed to enforce the laws for 8 hours, pick-up a pay check and then go home, especially out of the county. Community policing ideals encourage officers who like to visit with, serve and help the public. Officers who see their job as a public service, a calling to help others and not just as enforcer of laws. They are officers who raise their children with the other local children, attend Cub Scouts, Little League, Soccer and other school events. They shop here and go out to dinner with their family here. They actually know the first names of the local children and sometimes the names of their dogs. Officers that people feel comfortable approaching and speaking with, sharing ideas and concerns within the community. In essence, peace officers who not only embrace, but enjoy and live the role of "officer friendly". They should be officers that children look up to and the general community respect and admire. Officers actively involved in their community, not just here to work and go home.
5. Q) From the list below, what, legally, is the primary duty of law enforcement? Please explain.
-Keep people safe
-Keep the general peace
-Enforce the law
A) I believe of the three listed options above, the primary is to keep people safe from those that would do harm and victimize others.
6. Q) What does this quotation mean to you?:
"Neither a public entity or a public employee [may be sued] for failure to provide adequate police protection or service, failure to prevent the commission of crimes and failure to apprehend criminals." (California Government Code)
A) I believe that this quotation is a general loop-hole failsafe catchall created to minimize exposure to claims of malpractice logged against government agencies. While I have been reminded of this excerpt repeatedly by county counsel when I explain I believe I have a duty to the public to provide many public safety and other services, especially at least at some minimal level, I am told the law does not require it. Regardless, I feel morally and ethically motivated to always provide the best protection and service to the public that has placed their faith and trust in me by electing me as their Sheriff. As such, I always will do so to the best of my abilities. If I am told there is not enough funding to provide some services, I will do my best to take care of the needed actions by myself, as I am paid by salary and there is no additional cost for my work hours when there are budget constraints due to over-time costs for a deputy to do the work.
7. Q) Two Part Question:
A. Explain your personal stance on medical cannabis, and;
B. Explain what you believe the law requires of the county sheriff regarding medical cannabis.
A) A. My personal stance on medicinal marijuana is to follow what ever the current law(s) are as passed by the people. That is my job. Whether they become more lax or more stringent, I really do not care. I just wish the lawmakers would make-up their minds and create clarity on the issue of marijuana. Currently, the laws on medicinal marijuana, created by Proposition 215 in 1996, are being interpreted and impacted almost monthly by changing case law interpretations by the court of appeals process. I wish it were either completely de-criminalized or made exclusively illegal. The ever-expanding gray areas of the case laws are making it almost impossible to enforce any laws relating to simple personal use possession. I do not want the deputies to exhaust their time and attention, as well as the public have to pay huge costs related to personnel hours, to investigate cases that the District Attorney will not file any charges on. I’m sure in part due to the changing case laws. I do not have the funding or staff to expend on investigations that will not be prosecuted, especially when as a result, I am ordered by the judge to return the seized evidence due to no charges being filed. Personally, I am against the use of inhaled marijuana for any purposes. I understand it has clinical uses for certain medicinal cases, such as glaucoma and increasing appetite for cancer patients. There was already a prescription capsule form of medication that has all of those therapeutic qualities, it’s called "marinol", and has been available for years. For that matter I am also against tobacco. I just have never felt the desire to use either and there are related health risks form inhaling any form of smoke. I also believe that marijuana use leads to malaise and at some level, a loss of focus and therefore productivity by those under the influence. That said, I think there are more societal problems associated with alcohol than there are with marijuana, and if alcohol is legal, then I do not know how we can justify one and not the other. I have never went to a bar fight or domestic violence incident where the parties involved were simply stoned. The vast majority of the time, they are drunk. Alcohol often leads to aggressive and confrontational behavior; most stoners are laid-back and calm. I do believe that marijuana is a "gate-way" drug. But, I also believe that tobacco and alcohol are as well. I do not know anyone who just started using Cocaine, Methamphetamine or Heroin. In every case I have known, these people began experimenting first with tobacco, then alcohol and pot as teenagers. Perhaps it is due to a certain percentile of the public has addictive personality traits or a need to "self-medicate" by the introduction of chemicals into their bodies. Maybe I have the same traits and instead of tobacco and marijuana, I eat too much? In any event, I believe that the voters have the obligation to set the limit at what level they want to accept the legalization of intoxicating and euphoria creating substances. I believe that the level should obviously be set at the level that the majority of the people want and I believe that most agree that the milder the substance, the more acceptable it will be for society as a whole. To answer part A of your question, I am personally against marijuana but I will of course respect and follow the laws created by the people, whatever they are. If I ever get to a point where I cannot do so based on my personal feelings, then I should get out of the business. I have always, and I will continue to follow the current contemporary law(s) as prescribed by the people.
B. I believe the laws require the county Sheriff to follow and enforce the laws as decided by the people as well as by the case law decisions set down by the appellate courts. I believe that if some one follows the laws, has a valid need and recommendation for medicinal marijuana that they be allowed to operate within the confines of the laws. That generally is being allowed to grow and use enough marijuana in your own home at an amount that meets the needs of the individuals. I don’t believe people should be able to sell or furnish marijuana for a profit, or to juveniles or other persons who do not have a doctor’s legitimate recommendation for it. I don’t believe anyone should be able to drive under the influence, or use it while driving or operating firearms; same is with any substance that impairs ones ability to function safely. I don’t believe that anyone should be able to grow it on public lands, which include the national forests.
8. Q) What are the five most important tasks of the office of sheriff? Examples might be "explore funding opportunities" or "fish from the bridge".
A) 1. To serve and to protect the public and the sheriff’s office staff. I know that is a cliché, but it is a fundamental belief of most professional peace officers. I hold to it as well.
2. Keep constantly in touch with the general public and respect and follow their general expectations of how they want their community served.
3. Lead staff by example. Be their Sheriff and leader, not necessarily their friend. Ensure that the highest ethics are held and followed within the office.
4. Set and maintain office policies and up-hold high expectations for the service to the public; including inmates in the county jail.
5. Interface effectively with the Board of Supervisors and be sure to make clear to them the needs of the sheriff’s office, especially relating to funding for staff positions, the dispatch and jail and equipment.
9. Q) When enforcing state law, to whom is the Sheriff directly responsible?
A) The Sheriff is directly responsible to the electorate of the county for which they serve, the people.