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The election of the Sheriff for each County in California is enshrined in the California Constitution. This ensures the Sheriff is accountable to the voters, via an election every four years or by a recall in the interim between elections. In contrast, the Chiefs of Police in California serve at the whim of political officials or boards.
As an independent and elected official, the Sheriff has the duty and responsibility to set and enforce policies in their department, including use of force policies. The Riverside Sheriff’s Department Policies are readily available for public review and are posted on the internet. No other entity, including the Board of Supervisors, can enact policy for the Sheriff’s Department.
Law enforcement across the nation and Sheriff Bianco have both condemned the use of force used against George Floyd. The methods and force used by the Minneapolis Officers on George Floyd at the time of his death, are not allowed in Riverside County per existing Riverside County Sheriff’s Department policies.
The grievances of the protesters need to be heard. To those who are hurting, we are listening to you; we understand, and we too are hurting. We condemn all forms of racism and unnecessary uses of force. For those whose businesses were impacted by looting, we condemn all forms of looting, whether it happens on Wall Street or Main Street in Riverside County.
Sheriff Bianco has made it clear, via his interactions with the public during the ongoing protests, and his statement regarding the Board of Supervisor’s suggested policy review, that he is committed to building relationships and trust with the community. As the organization representing deputies who are in the community every day, we are in full agreement with the need to build relationships and trust. The Sheriff’s Department is accountable all for uses of force and being responsive to the communities we serve.
Despite our use of force policy being publicly available, and without any reference to any policy that creates issues, we cannot support the Motion made by one Supervisor following the death of George Floyd, which demands a review of the Riverside Sheriff’s Department policing policies. While we understand the current spotlight on policing, we do not believe that it is constructive to have a political body demand full-scale policy reviews when they do not have the legal authority to set or change any policy that is reviewed. There is no need to suggest or invent problems that do not exist in the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, however; if something is discovered or brought to light, the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association would eagerly involve themselves in the discussion to find a mutually agreed upon resolution.
Bill Young, President
Riverside Sheriffs’ Association