Frequently Asked Questions
What are your qualifications to be sheriff?
I have worked at the Sheriff’s Department since 2007. I began as a deputy and was promoted to a succession of positions with greater responsibility: STING detective, rural crimes detective, patrol sergeant, internal affairs sergeant and now lieutenant. In May 2015, I became the police chief in the city of Patterson, which contracts with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services. As the chief, I am responsible for managing our budget and personnel, and interacting with city leaders on policy. I have a broad background in leadership over the last 25 years, including commanding groups of 15 to 120 soldiers in multinational settings – including an infantry company in Iraq in 2005. I have one of the best educations in the country thanks to the United States Military Academy at West Point. I ran my own ag business and understand the needs and desires of the private citizens and business owners.
You talk about leadership being your most important skill set. How did you develop that? And how does that play into your goal of becoming sheriff?
You have to want to be a leader, you have to study leadership, and you have to be willing to fail and accept criticism. I have studied leadership for 25 years and practiced it over and over. I’ve failed, made mistakes and learned from criticism. One of my main goals as a police chief is to develop my sergeants to replace me. It takes active work by leaders to create, train and mentor the next generation. You have to be willing to accept mistakes by junior leaders. I wouldn’t be here if my bosses believed in zero defects. I respect others’ opinions and believe it is important to listen to many ideas before making a decision.
What is the most pressing law enforcement issue facing the Sheriff’s Department?
The Sheriff’s Department has a significant staffing shortage, as do all of the adjacent agencies. We have dozens of vacancies between operations division, adult detention and civilian staff. We struggle to find qualified candidates who can pass our background check. We have been and will continue to revise, improve and modify our recruiting practices to attract, hire and retain qualified candidates, but we will not lower our standards or jeopardize the public’s faith in our agency. While our employees are skilled and dedicated, they also are young and relatively new to the profession. Our current command staff has implemented additional training beyond the Basic POST Academy. This includes traffic investigations, DUI training, interview and interrogation training, and crisis intervention techniques. We reassigned a sergeant to specifically evaluate and improve advanced officer training. I will continue to refine and develop our training programs to provide the highest quality of service possible to the people of Stanislaus County.
As sheriff, what would be your views on …?
Concealed Carry Weapons permits
Self-defense is not just your constitutional right; I believe it’s your responsibility. We cannot have law enforcement personnel everywhere, nor would we want to. I will continue to issue CCW permits as per our current policy to anyone who can successfully pass the background check and training requirements.
Video cameras for all patrol deputies
Like many issues, most people see an onion. I see 50 layers of complexity. I support the idea of body cameras and expect that we will get them in the future. There are, however, a number of issues that need to be discussed and resolved, including type and cost of equipment, policy and procedure, and pending legislative requirements.
The differences between state and federal marijuana laws
Possession of marijuana is still a federal felony. In November 2016, the California voters passed Proposition 64, which legalized using and growing marijuana for personal use. While I did not personally support this, the people have spoken, and we will continue to enforce the law of the land as modified. We will continue to collaborate with federal partners in any investigation.
Immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility, not one for local law enforcement. We are not statutorily charged, staffed, trained or resourced to conduct immigration enforcement. I will leave the discussion on immigration law to our Congress. The sheriff’s office will unequivocally enforce the law and protect victims regardless of their immigration status, which has no bearing on our investigations or efforts. We do collaborate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, just as we work with all our federal law enforcement partners. We are in compliance with California’s TRUST Act. We will comply with all legal mandates.
A significant percentage of violent crime in Stanislaus County stems from gangs. As with homelessness, this also requires a “whole community” solution, but law enforcement clearly plays a significant role in addressing the symptoms, if not the root causes. There are a number of viable programs that synthesize information into actionable intelligence to target gang members. To effectively implement these programs, we need to solve our staffing problem.
The Sheriff’s Department budget
The department is adequately funded by the county Board of Supervisors and the CEO’s office. We work collaboratively with them every year for the financial resources we need to serve the public. Our biggest challenge right now is not money; it’s finding qualified candidates to be deputies.
Homelessness is not a law enforcement issue; it is a community issue. It is not illegal to be homeless, but law enforcement obviously plays a role in it when homeless individuals do things that require our intervention. Long-term solutions will require collaboration between government, businesses, nonprofits, the faith-based community and people living in the affected neighborhoods. I serve on a number of boards and councils that specifically look to identify lasting ways to deal with homelessness. A key component of this problem is addressing mental health issues and addictions, which often go hand-in-hand.
Rural Crime detectives who investigate ag-related crimes
Prior to law enforcement, I farmed 550 acres on my family’s ranch east of Denair. Today, I still farm over 40 acres of almonds with my family. In one of many assignments as a deputy, I served as a Rural Crimes detective. It was one of the most rewarding positions I have held. With my extensive knowledge of agriculture and personal relationships with farmers, the Farm Bureau and ag-related businesses, I was able to successfully resolve a large number of cases and bring criminals to justice. The Sheriff’s Department will continue to maintain a strong Rural Crimes program and relationships with the ag community. This county is founded on agriculture and we will do everything in our power to protect our agricultural community.
The Community Resource Deputy program is a priority for the Sheriff’s Department. CRDs are assigned to the unincorporated communities like Denair, Keyes, Salida and Empire, as well as other areas in the county. Deputy sheriffs assigned to this community-oriented program develop strong relationships with residents, business owners and school officials. Deputies are able to effectively address crime and quality-of-life issues within those communities. CRDs function as a direct link from the local Municipal Advisory Council’s (MACs) to the sheriff. We will reinstate this valuable program, just like our School Resource Officer program, as we continue hiring and increase patrol staffing levels.
The relationship between the Sheriff’s Department and the contract cities
As a contract city chief, I can attest to the fact that sometimes it can be difficult to serve two masters. However, the department strives to provide the highest level of service to everyone — cities and county both. The contracts are crafted through negotiations and agreed to by the county Board of Supervisors and the respective city councils. Changes to the level of service can be added or subtracted every year.
The various countywide task forces the Sheriff’s Department is involved in
I believe that the future of law enforcement will involve more cooperation and collaboration with other agencies at the local, state and federal levels. The Sheriff’s Department is involved in effective task forces for drugs and car thefts. We will maintain and expand these and other programs as resources and personnel allow.