Inspector General is weapon at the control of those who appointed him [Opinion]

Residents Seek RivCo Inspector General [Opinion]

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco

Members of the public appeared at the County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday “to demand” that the Board of Supervisors establish an independent inspector general to oversee the office of the sheriff.

The challenge is the Office of the Sheriff is a constitutionally established office and is not under the control of the Board of Supervisors.

The ACLU spoke in favor of creating an office of the inspector general. They also seek to separate the coroner’s office from the sheriff’s department.

Thomas Jefferson once called “The office of the sheriff the most important in the land.” The independence of the office of sheriff must be maintained. Its independence prevents the department from being subjected to the political demands of special interest groups and political operatives.

The Peace Officer Bill of Rights helps keep investigators findings confidential and, on a need, to know basis. This law was passed in bipartisan fashion in Sacramento many years ago. It works, but its confidential finding is questioned often by the ACLU and grand standing groups seeking legal settlements.

Today it is difficult to recruit for law enforcement officers in federal, state, and local government departments. Why? It is obvious that special interests and politicians have placed a target upon the backs of all members of law enforcement.

These same special interests sought to cut funding for law enforcement, and it is still the cry of elites and criminal defendants.

Take a look around the state and notice that many stores are closing as a direct result of changes to laws that have made it difficult for district attorneys to charge shoplifters and other crimes.

No law enforcement agency is perfect. No chief of police who is appointed by politicians is perfect. One could argue that police chiefs should be elected. This way they serve a community without the political pressures of a city council or mayor being applied.

Sheriffs are constitutional officers, and the board of supervisors have the constitutional right to fund the department at a level to keep the community safe. The County Executive works closely with the Sheriff’s staff to meet budgetary needs and to ensure the county recovers actual costs for contract city services.  That’s the limit of their constitutional authority.

This board and prior boards of supervisors have funded the department to increase the number of deputies, build jails, build new stations, fund two coroner’s facilities, and provide special enforcement teams, and much more. Sheriff, fire, and DA departments consume a large portion of discretionary funds.

They worked with the Sheriff, even when they had differences, and helped the Sheriff keep your 28 cities and dozens of unincorporated areas safe.

Civilian oversite is popular with special interests. What they learn is how well these investigations are run, how credible the investigations are, and they develop an understanding of process. Some board members are simply appointed to disgrace those in law enforcement and to garner headlines.

If an independent Inspector General were to be appointed, then why not over all county operations? Subject all 22,000 county employees and elected officials to the same standards. Let that person stand for election by the voters. Let them be equals of the board and county elected officials. True “independence” would require that. Otherwise, the “IG” is just a weapon at the control of those he or she is appointed by.

To target only the Sheriff is motivated only by special interest groups who seek to weaken the department and make it answerable to special interests like the ACLU and political operatives who cannot win at the ballot box.

Prior Sheriffs have appointed “Recruiting, Retention, and Diversity Commission, “Native American Affairs Commissions, and “after the 911 attacks “Homeland Security Commission.” They worked with the sheriff and his executive team. All three were of great benefit and were advisory panels to Sheriffs Smith or Doyle.

Should Sheriff Bianco feel he needs an oversight board, he may appoint one. It’s within his rights bestowed upon him by the Constitution.

He has done excellent work restoring the department and keeping it on task. Special interests may not like that, but the voters overwhelmingly support him for their safety being safe at home, school, and work.

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  • Sheriff Chad Bianco: Sheriff Chad Bianco
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