Soapbox

Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones won re-election, but he must make changes

Milo Fitch announces his candidacy for Sacramento County Sheriff at Cesar Chavez Plaza in Sacramento on March 8.
Milo Fitch announces his candidacy for Sacramento County Sheriff at Cesar Chavez Plaza in Sacramento on March 8.

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones narrowly escaped a runoff in the June 5 election, demonstrating that nearly half of county voters want change.

During the campaign, he attacked my family instead of addressing the issues that clearly concern voters. Now that the election is over, I believe the sheriff can make progress to meet the community’s needs and bring the nation’s seventh largest sheriff’s department into the 21st century.

Opinion

Many lives, and justice itself, depend on the sheriff’s policies. I invite Jones to join in reforms that will build trust and partnerships between law enforcement and the community. The evidence is clear that these reforms succeed.

Our sheriff should work with community leaders to increase the arrest rate for rapes, now reported at only 3 percent.

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Milo Fitch

For greater transparency, all deputies should be equipped with body cameras and video taken by jail, car, and body cameras should be released. Police officers entering the jail should be allowed to keep their body cameras recording.

Jones should regularly report to the public the number of concealed weapons permits that are rescinded and make the vetting process for issuing permits more transparent.

The sheriff ought to reinstate the Reentry Council to lower recidivism and work to reduce homelessness among ex-inmates.

To increase trust with vulnerable and ostracized communities, there need to be community justice programs where appropriate, and representatives of those communities need to be on the Sheriff’s Outreach Community Advisory Board.

The sheriff must improve the unacceptable conditions at the main jail and the north patrol station. He must also better meet the health and mental health needs of inmates and end the practice of releasing inmates in the middle of the night.

Inside the department, Jones should develop an equitable promotion and job assignment process based on merit, and cease to promote those who commit wrongdoing. He must provide ongoing, effective training to eliminate sexual harassment, discrimination and inherent bias, as well as training in crisis intervention and de-escalation.

Jones must ensure that the department’s top leaders have experience in the daily challenges faced by deputies on patrol and in investigations. He must transition the department from a warrior mentality to a guardian mentality, using recommendations from the Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

These kinds of reforms are those that I’ve built a track record on, and what my current position entails. While I work at the state level, I remain available to share successful efforts with local leaders, including the sheriff. The election is over, but my commitment to serve this community remains.

Milo Fitch, a retired Sacramento County chief deputy sheriff who is chief of workforce development for the California Prison Industry Authority, finished second in the June 5 election for Sacramento County sheriff. He can be contacted at fitchm@frontier.com.
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