In the last Sheriff’s election, in 2018, I was drawn into an active editorial role for an elected office that I had never taken an interest in. Usually the Sheriff’s race was about internal professional rivalries, which is irrelevant to a pragmatic progressive like me. I just practiced harm reduction, and voted for the man with the best temperament as my civic standard.
That changed when I had the good fortune to be introduced to 2018 Sheriff’s candidate John Mutz at a political event. John was a retired former LAPD division commander of a city-sized district with hundreds of officers. John introduced me to a whole new school of what is called ‘21st century law enforcement.’ His recommendations carry weight with me. He is an impressive figure, as is Dave Edmonds.
John invited me to the campaign kickoff event in December, and in order to do my due diligence as a political columnist, we arranged a breakfast meeting. This meeting confirmed my initial support. Dave Edmonds is the man for the job. I don’t come by that recommendation lightly.
Dave Edmonds is a retired three-decade veteran who trained many of the current officers in the SCSO, and he has a very candid assessment of the leadership qualities (or lack thereof) of the staff at the executive level in the department. He has very clear ideas about law enforcement best practices and is the current editor of the nation’s largest police magazine, American Police Beat, so he has the intellectual bandwidth to communicate effectively with the public. One of his excellent ideas for the job is to use his talent for writing to publish a syndicated column ‘From the Desk of the Sheriff’ to communicate to the public.
Dave Edmonds as County Sheriff will professionalize the force and restructure public safety. He is receptive to social workers as the first point of contact with the homeless and skilled mental health professionals as the opening bid to de-escalate mental health crises and domestic disputes. Not every situation requires an armed officer to charge in ready to subdue the citizen by force.
That attitude is what happens when a police culture goes rogue and starts to see themselves as ‘enforcing the law’ rather than ‘maintaining public order’. My impression of Dave Edmonds is that he is deeply committed to restoring public confidence in the department. He expressed enthusiasm for creating a template for 21st century policing in Sonoma County that can be duplicated all over the country.
That’s what I want out of a Sheriff. Edmonds stated his intention to de-politicize the force and act in better alignment with the rest of county government. He wants a top-to-bottom personnel audit, and higher standards for hiring new officers. He wants a special unit to audit the county jail closely. Some officers may decide to move on to another jurisdiction rather than adjust to a new regime. That’s just fine by Dave Edmonds.
At the conclusion of our interview, I laughed and told him that I will really believe that he means what he says when he fires the first officer for cause. He assured me that he is ready, willing and able to restore accountability to the force. We need a real straight arrow like him as the top law enforcement officer.