Why is the Sheriff’s election important and why should we care? In my view it’s the most important office next to choosing your County Supervisor primarily because the Sheriff, the top cop in the county, has a lot of power. This individual’s office has the power to detain you, to arrest you, hold you in custody, and maintain your imprisonment in the County Jail. How much more power should one person hold over another – greater than taking away all one’s essential freedoms? That’s a cargo shipload of power.
Since the George Floyd killing and even before, the cry for police responsibility after fatal events, excessive aggression, racial and ethnic discrimination, and militant and bullying tactics has been loud and clear. Examples abide nationwide, but Sonoma County has its own dark history of fatal “events”, County Jail deaths and human rights violations, and an atmosphere of permissive physical brutality in its ranks. It took the cold-blooded killing of a 12-year-old boy carrying a toy gun by a Sheriff’s deputy to convince the Board of Supervisors that a citizen’s review board was in dire need. But it is now plainly clear that this police oversight entity, IOLERO (Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach) needs a good deal more power if it is to viably function.
Keep in mind that the Board of Supervisors has no jurisdiction over the Sheriff and can’t fire him because it’s an elected office.
This next Sheriff’s election should be about police reform. After watching numerous candidates’ debates and listening to their replies to a diverse range of questions and viewing their websites, I concluded that the best candidate for affecting real change is Carl Tennenbaum. He fully and unequivocally embraces and pledges to implement the reform measures — as delineated in overwhelmingly voter-approved Measure P — for citizen oversight, in hand with police accountability for its actions.
No doubt other changes are needed: training, policy, circumspect and measured use of force, and ethical and respectful relationship with the public, among them. As I see it, paramount in a top cop is the overriding motivation to improve the lives of people, earn public trust, cease over- aggression and unwarranted physical force and an aim to use diplomacy and reason as a first resort. I believe we have that in Carl Tennenbaum.
– Will Shonbrun, Boyes Springs