Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones narrowly won re-election in June. Apparently there was some confusion about what seat he was elected to.
The voters of Sacramento thought he was running for county sheriff, but it seems that Jones thought he was elected king. He believes he can make up his own rules and tell the Board of Supervisors to take a hike.
I couldn’t believe it when I heard that Jones had unilaterally decided that Sacramento County Inspector General Rick Braziel, who is in charge of oversight of the sheriff’s office, would no longer have access to the sheriff’s records and would not be allowed to come into the sheriff’s office.
Braziel is a highly respected, nationally recognized authority, and a former Sacramento city police chief. Why has he been barred from the sheriff’s department?
Because he filed a report critical of the May 2017 fatal shooting of a deeply troubled African-American man, Mikel McIntyre, on Highway 50 in Rancho Cordova. Braziel’s report said the officers fired dozens of shots at the suspect, who was running away from them, and concluded there were instances where this response was “excessive, unnecessary and put the community at risk.”
The report suggested that deputies need more training about when to use less lethal measures against suspects.
Braziel did his job. One would hope that the sheriff’s department would respond by studying these findings and implementing training to improve their response to similar situations in the future.
Instead, Jones threw a fit. He made numerous accusations against Braziel, accusing him of having political motivations and conflicts of interest. He encouraged the county Board of Supervisors to cancel Braziel’s contract, and he told them that he would “terminate [Braziel’s] access to our facilities, records and personnel,” access that Jones himself stated was critical to the inspector general’s effectiveness.
We do live in a polarized society where reasonable people can disagree. But I think we can all agree that no innocent bystander wants to be killed by a stray police bullet aimed at an emotionally troubled suspect who was running away. This is not a political issue.
How did the county Board of Supervisors respond? County supervisors Phil Serna and Patrick Kennedy were outraged. They asked deputy counsel Krista Whitman to research whether Jones could be required to provide access for the inspector general. However, the majority of the board appeared willing to look for a new inspector who could work more cooperatively with the sheriff.
This calls into question the whole idea of having a county inspector general to provide oversight of the sheriff’s department. If the sheriff feels his department can do no wrong and that there is no room for improvement, if the sheriff can simply refuse to allow access to any inspector who writes reports critical of the sheriff’s department, if the Board of Supervisors goes along with this and lets the sheriff call the shots—what reputable expert would be willing to take this job? This is a joke.
The Board of Supervisors should stand up to the sheriff and require him to cooperate with the inspector general. The sheriff’s department should not be allowed to deny access to their office and personnel because the sheriff does not agree with the results of an oversight report.
We elected a sheriff, not a king.