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California’s mini-Trump: Why Scott Jones is the worst Sacramento sheriff in a generation

Scott Jones has to be the worst sheriff Sacramento County has had in the 30 years I’ve lived here and he repeatedly has risen to this dubious distinction through his own brand of muddle brained hubris.

From his flouting of state law by redacting information regarding the conduct of his officers – information that The Sacramento Bee has sued to obtain – to his failure to release information sought by The Bee that was supposed to have been public nine months ago, Jones is in a category all his own among elected officials in Sacramento County.

Who else is as directly and indirectly linked to so many lawsuits?

Sacramento County residents are on the hook for $100 million to settle a lawsuit detailing inhumane conditions in county jails that Jones runs. Jones was a ranking officer close to key figures involved in a $3.6 million lawsuit brought by four female deputies who took on the “Bro” culture in Sheriff’s department.

In 2016, Jones himself was accused of making unwanted sexual advances against a female deputy. The emails between Jones and the deputy – uncovered by The Bee in court documents – were nothing short of creepy.

Opinion

It was Jones who signed off on allowing the Main Jail downtown to be the setting for “Jailbirds,” an odious Netflix series where the misery of inmates was exploited. The Bee reported that deputies stood by as fights broke out for the cameras.

Jones is the guy who locked out the former Sacramento Police chief who dared question the conduct of Jones’ officers when they shot and killed an emotionally disturbed black man named Mikel McIntyre on the shoulder of Highway 50 in broad daylight in 2017.

The county grand jury excoriated Jones for locking the doors on then county Inspector General Rick Braziel, following Braziel’s review that questioned whether lethal force was necessary in the McIntyre case. The grand jury called for more oversight of Jones and his office.

I could go on and on: The lawsuit filed by the family of Marshall Miles after Miles died at the county jail. The $7 million wrongful death settlement reached by the county with the Citrus Heights widow of a depressed man killed by deputies. Discovery testimony in that case revealed that the deputy who killed Chad Irwin had not received crisis intervention training to recognize the symptoms of mental illness.

The deputy who killed Irwin also had never turned on his video camera during the encounter. Oh, and there was the time in 2018 when Jones’ deputies ran over a protester and Jones tried to divert blame. Again, there is more – more lawsuits, more hubris.

Trump, CA homeless crisis

But last week of all weeks, Jones took to his Facebook page to support the lies Donald Trump told about the homeless crisis in California.

Yeah, the same week that Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry of Trump. It’s the same week a damning whistleblower report became public and alleged that Trump used “the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election.”

The report says Trump wanted the President of Ukraine to dig up dirt on the family of Joe Biden, the former vice president seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.

Why would a sheriff in the capital of California be shilling for Trump?

Putting aside that Trump lost California by a landslide in the 2016 presidential election. And that Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in Sacramento County by nearly 25 percentage points, it would be nice if the sheriff was not an ideologue. But he has been since he unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a Republican in 2016. In 2018, Jones went to Washington to pander to Trump directly, “forgetting who he represents,” as The Bee editorial board wrote at the time.

But now? California asked the federal government for financial help to expand housing voucher programs that might get people off the streets. That California request was denied in a letter from Ben Carson, Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

That the feds are choosing to stick it to California when federal dollars are needed to combat homelessness is shameful. That the danged Sacramento sheriff is backing Trump’s play is disgraceful. This is a Trump White House that proposes cutting Community Development Block Grants and making big reductions in public housing – policies that would only exacerbate homelessness.

No matter. Jones penned the following: “California (is) tying the hands of law enforcement so they can not enforce quality-of-life laws, remove encampments, and connect our most vulnerable populations with the supportive services they need to get off the streets.”

The sheriff apparently hasn’t heard of a federal court order that blocks cities and counties from rousting homeless people if they have no place to shelter them. Jones repeated the lie that there is a “resource and housing drain because of illegal immigration and sanctuary state policies.” The California law Jones cites is ”The California Values Act,” which defeated a challenge from Trump in federal court, and only limits local law enforcement officers from becoming de-facto immigration agents.

Sheriffs like Jones have been misstating what this law does for political reasons. Any responsible elected official in Sacramento County would either reject Trump’s obfuscation on homelessness or distance themselves from it. But not our sheriff. It truly boggles the mind and does nothing to help a dire situation.

“It’s important to respond aggressively to homelessness,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who was one of four state officials to whom Carson sent his rejection letter.

“It’s important not to let the president distract us from our important work. He’s a failure and will go down in history as an aberration.”

I’m gonna make a bet that Scott Jones, Sacramento’s Mini-Trump, will go down in history in the same way Steinberg characterizes the real Trump: A failure.

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