If you were grading Sheriff Chad Bianco, what grades would he receive on his report card? [Opinion]

If report cards were issued for the position of Sheriff, Chad Bianco’s grades would certainly be mixed. In the beginning of his tenure, liberals were enthusiastic about the young Sheriff’s seemingly progressive attitudes.

When Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched on downtown Riverside, Sheriff Bianco took a knee right alongside them. In response to combative budget hearings between his predecessor and the Board of Supervisors, Bianco announced he would operate his department within the parameters of the Board approved budget. What’s more, Mr. Bianco assured the public he could open the pricey new Indio Jail without requesting any additional funds. The new Sheriff went on to assure the citizenry he and his new command staff would get to the bottom of a child molestation case involving a veteran department investigator that had been allegedly botched by his predecessor. Sheriff Bianco also responded to growing public discontent with law enforcement by promising he would create a civilian oversight committee to regulate the behavior and ethics of cops. Quite naturally the Left was elated and responded to the rookie sheriff’s attitude by showering him with support and excitement.

Fast forward a couple of years. Sheriff Bianco’s budgetary compliance with the status quo has faded. His compatibility with the County Board of Supervisor’s fiscal outlook has morphed into a similar contentious attitude as that displayed by the former sheriff. Not only couldn’t Sheriff Bianco operate his department within the confines of allocated funds, he also could not come close to fully opening the Indio Jail with existing monies. The molestation case still languishes and instead of taking a knee with BLM, Sheriff Bianco admitted he was a former dues-paying member an alleged white supremacy group, Oath Keepers. As for the Citizen’s Oversight Committee, it still doesn’t exist. As horrible as the COVID pandemic was and is, it seemed to reveal an even deeper conflict between the Sheriff’s conservative political philosophies and the now disillusioned liberals clearly no longer in his camp.

The Sheriff, a devout Christian, is also an enthusiastic workout and health devotee. He feels strongly that a healthy body is far better in combating the coronavirus than a hurriedly synthesized vaccine. He has refused to be vaccinated or mandate his employees to do so. He does not inhibit others from taking the shot, he just doesn’t think the vaccine is a miracle drug. Of course, walking hand-in-hand with this vaccine attitude is the Sheriff’s feelings about masking. He has refused to enforce Governor Gavin Newsom’s order mandating masks for all. Instead, Mr. Bianco feels such decisions are better left to the individual and not the government. The Sheriff has concluded such an order is unconstitutional and, therefore, unenforceable. Liberals, of course, are crestfallen. So much so that prominent Democrat Coachella Valley elected officials have called for the Sheriff’s resignation and others are mounting a nationwide search for an opposition candidate who can defeat him in the coming election. The Left feels they were fooled by Chad Bianco during his campaign. Democrats and liberals would likely give Sheriff Bianco an “F” for his first term in office.

Conservatives, on the other hand, are elated with the new Sheriff. They are impressed with what they see as his ardent support of the constitution, his bravery in standing up to the Governor and his accessibility to the public. They like that he is less restrictive with CCW permits than was his predecessor. Deputies seem to love him. Morale is higher. He has allowed deputies to wear beards, cowboy hats and uncover their tattoos. They have also been awarded some healthy pay raises. Crime in Riverside County is not soaring like other parts of the state and country. The Sheriff enjoys a good relationship with District Attorney Michael Hestrin and the Sheriffs in neighboring counties. Unlike former Sheriff Stanley Sniff, Chad Bianco has a good relationship with the deputy sheriff’s union, RSA. As for the budgetary faux pas involving the Indio Jail and working within existing fiscal constraints, conservatives chalk this up to first term naivete. The Right would likely give Sheriff Bianco an “A” for his first term.

So, is Chad Bianco in trouble? Will he suffer a defeat in the upcoming election? Much rides on who the Left finds to run against him. Let’s look at who, locally, might be out there to mount an opposition. A few prominent names come to mind.

The first on the list is Cathedral City Councilman Ray Gregory. Councilman Gregory is a law enforcement conservative and a political liberal. He is a retired Assistant Sheriff with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, openly Gay, and amazingly smart. He is affable and liked by all who meet him but a law-and-order guy to his core. He would be a great Sheriff.

Second: Retired Palm Springs Police Chief Brian Reyes. Chief Reyes is an accomplished law enforcement professional who has a proven track record of working with a diverse population. His successful tenure with the Palm Springs Police Department endeared him to all political sides, which is essential to the office of Sheriff.

Third: Retired Riverside County Sheriff Stanly Sniff. Sheriff Sniff proved his progressive nature during his many years in the position. He recruited and promoted minorities and women to upper management and executive positions within the department at unprecedented levels. His community outreach was stellar as was his managerial experience and fiscal conservatism.

Fourth: Retired Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz. Chief Diaz held the position of Riverside Police Chief for ten years. Before moving to Riverside, he was a Deputy Chief with the Los Angeles Police Department. He works well with all sides of an issue, knows all facets of law enforcement operations and is respected by cops and citizens alike. He would have no problem hitting the ground running if elected Sheriff.

As can be readily seen, there is no shortage of qualified candidates in Riverside County for the position of Sheriff. The question is, do we need a new Sheriff? Does Chad Bianco’s actions, and inaction, demand he be replaced? The decision rests with the voters of course. The people may instill the degree of law enforcement they desire. That is the beauty of local control of law enforcement through popular election. You decide how much and to what degree you want to be policed and then live with your decision. Just be careful what you wish for – you just might get it.

Image Sources

  • Sheriff Chad Bianco: FOX 11 / foxla.com (Used with permission)