Editorials

Sacramento Sheriff Jones clearly hates transparency and oversight. Too bad. It comes with the job

Sheriff Scott Jones stands for the Pledge of Allegiance during a Sheriff’s Academy graduation in June in Sacramento.
Sheriff Scott Jones stands for the Pledge of Allegiance during a Sheriff’s Academy graduation in June in Sacramento. dkim@sacbee.com

For a man who recently won more than 50 percent of the vote to clinch a third term as sheriff of Sacramento County, Scott Jones seems to have forgotten that he answers to the public he is paid to serve, not his own over-inflated ego.

How else to explain his strange — if not suspicious — reaction to a report from Inspector General Rick Braziel that criticized how sheriff’s deputies handled the 2017 shooting of Mikel McIntyre in Rancho Cordova?

Rather than accept the findings and consider that maybe, just maybe, he and his deputies might have a thing or two to learn about how to bring in more suspects alive, Jones took it upon himself to lock Braziel out of his department’s facilities, deny him access to personnel records and call for his ouster.

In doing all this, the sheriff effectively brought all independent oversight of his department to a halt. So basically, he took his ball and went home. Does that sound like a mature and trustworthy public servant to you? We don’t think so.

Sacramento County residents deserve more from Jones and it’s up to the county Board of Supervisors to speak up and make sure that happens.

A good start would be discussing the situation from the dais when the board meets on Wednesday. Supervisors also should direct staff to come up different ways to ensure there is independent oversight of the department; San Diego County, for example, has had a Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board for almost 20 years. And renewing Braziel’s contract with the county when it expires in November is a must.

There are serious questions that need to be answered about why, on a sunny afternoon last year, several deputies thought it was appropriate to chase down a black man who was having a mental health crisis and to open fire on him across several lanes of rush-hour traffic on Highway 50.

But Jones isn’t into answering questions. Instead he sent a self-serving letter — obtained by The Sacramento Bee’s Anita Chabria and Marcos Breton — to Sacramento County Executive Nav Gill, in which he blasted Braziel’s report as “misguided, destructive and dangerous.”

The sheriff also brushed off the validity of its findings, arguing, laughably, that the inspector general is unqualified because “he is neither a recognized use-of-force expert nor a legal expert.”

To the contrary, Braziel is a member of the National Police Foundation and a nationally recognized expert in use-of-force policy and procedure. He has been called in to help review the police response to the San Bernardino terrorist attack, the Pulse nightclub mass shooting and the days of rioting in Ferguson, Mo., after white officer shot a black teenager.

We’re pretty sure he can make an accurate assessment of Sacramento sheriff’s deputies who killed McIntyre because he was running away and throwing rocks.

Even more ridiculous, Jones, in his letter, accused Braziel of being politically motivated by a desire to drum up more state money for de-escalation training for law enforcement. This is is rich coming from a man who ran for Congress (and lost), and then went to the White House to pander to President Donald Trump by telling him California is full of “spectacular failures” because dangerous immigrants are released from jail in sanctuary cities.

The Board of Supervisors shouldn’t let the sheriff’s brazen affront to transparency and public trust stand. No matter what Jones says, Sacramento is lucky to have Braziel as inspector general.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments