Monday, May 28, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 12
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Santa Maria Sun / Commentary

The following article was posted on May 16th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 11 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 11

A leadership change is needed for Sheriff's Office

By LT. EDDIE HSUEH

As a resident who grew up in Santa Maria and has dedicated 32 years to keeping the public safe, I regret to say that our Sheriff’s Department needs a leadership change to face our mounting public safety challenges. That’s why I’m running for sheriff. From patrol to training recruits and leading crisis intervention training to being the police chief for Solvang and Buellton, my experience, training, and energy are what’s necessary to lead our department into the 21st century.

First, we must increase public trust in our department. Our department’s mission is to protect the public, not do the job of immigration enforcement. I support the California law that directs our department not to report undocumented people with minor, non-violent offenses, to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), for two major reasons. One, we need undocumented residents to be willing to report crimes and come forward as witnesses. And two, we need our officers to focus on local crime, not be diverted doing ICE’s federal job. To keep jail costs and overcrowding down, we must avoid using our jails as ICE holding areas.

And regarding public trust, we need more training on dealing with high stress situations and people with mental illness, education about the Gun Violence Restraining Order, and on the use of force. The crisis intervention program I implemented three years ago trains officers on de-escalating these situations and coordinating with social service agencies to help those affected and our personnel deal with such issues.

Second, we need to make our department more effective without increasing the taxpayers’ burden. We must modernize our electronic reporting system. According to the DA’s office, 50 percent of cases are prolonged due to the Sheriff’s Office’s delay in providing essential information. When arrest reports are late, the DA seeks a continuance. Then people waiting to go to court are kept in jail longer, increasing both jail overcrowding and operational expenses.

I’d also pursue cost sharing with regional partners. For example, we should create a regional Dispatch Center. In addition to reducing costs, this would improve communication between agencies and result in faster response times and enhanced public safety. We should also share expensive equipment such as helicopters, armored vehicles, and other specialty vehicles. This would not only save the initial purchase costs, but also the ongoing expenses such as personnel, maintenance, and depreciation.

A third, related priority is reducing our distressing attrition rate. A recent HR report showed that in 2016, 74 percent of officer separations left for other agencies. In 2017, 72 percent went to other agencies. In 2018 we are poised to be even higher. Even now we have more than 50 unfilled positions, which requires our personnel to work overtime and creates job fatigue.

Losing valued personnel increases our recruiting and training costs, increases overtime expenses, and causes stress on personnel. It robs us of valuable experience vital to keeping the public safe. By improving work conditions and recruiting, I’ll reduce employee attrition and increase community safety.

Every resident and Sheriff’s Office employee needs and deserves a sheriff who is a leader, not a politician. You deserve a leader who has the experience and determination to make the changes necessary to meet our fiscal and operational challenges, without asking taxpayers to dig deeper. And you need a sheriff who has an open door policy, willing to listen to residents, department personnel, and our county supervisors who are making difficult budgetary decisions.

With mail-in voting starting now and leading up to the primary election on June 5, I ask you for your vote. Together we will make our community stronger and safer. 

Lt. Eddie Hsueh has served with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for 32 years and is running for sheriff-coroner on the June 5 ballot. Send your thoughts to letters@santamariasun.com.




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