Soapbox

Supervisor Frost: Let’s get past name-calling in Sheriff’s Department debate

Sheriff Scott Jones finishes speaking to the Board of Supervisors about the inspector general’s access to the sheriff’s facilities during a meeting on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 in Sacramento.
Sheriff Scott Jones finishes speaking to the Board of Supervisors about the inspector general’s access to the sheriff’s facilities during a meeting on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 in Sacramento. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

When I first read Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Bretón’s latest attack, my first thought was to call out the litany of omissions or point out that I and others believe Bretón has a history of belittling women.

But it occurred to me that Bretón’s hysterical musings don’t really deserve a response. He wears his misogyny openly for all to see, and his one-sided opinions have already chased away readers who don’t subscribe to his anti-law enforcement views.

Instead I want to offer some suggestions to improve understanding and dialogue as we move forward. Perhaps Bretón will participate — or maybe he’ll just continue sniping from the sidelines while the rest of us move forward.

I disagree with those who say “all cops are bad.” I know many law enforcement officers. Most are dedicated public servants who do heroic, dangerous jobs. And they do it well — which is illustrated by the fact that unincorporated Sacramento County had the largest decrease in crime of any jurisdiction in the region, according to the latest Sheriff’s Department data.

I believe any loss of life is tragic, and no one — not myself, not my fellow supervisors, not the sheriff, not the district attorney and not the attorney general — should belittle the death of anyone, including those in custody or during arrest. We should be vigilant to ensure there are as few deaths as possible during arrest and in custody. But, despite claims by some, I don’t believe that should be the only metric by which we judge our criminal justice system. I think the most important metric is reduced crime rates — or in other words, a reduction in the number of innocent victims.

Opinion

At the Dec. 4 meeting of the Board of Supervisors that was touted by the media as a showdown between the sheriff and the supervisors, all five supervisors, and the sheriff, agreed to move forward with reinstating an inspector general. Despite contrary belief, not every solution has to be acrimonious.

So moving forward, let me offer a few suggestions that might improve the dialogue, and move us away from silly name calling and toward real solutions.

Sue Frost.jpg
Sue Frost

First: When I was elected to the Board of Supervisors, I asked the Sheriff’s Department to put me through the use-of-force simulator. I knew that law enforcement issues would be a priority, and I wanted to have as close to a first-hand experience as possible. The results were eye-opening. I encourage my colleagues, and any media who are going to comment or report on these issues, to participate in one of these simulations — and to publish their experience.

Second: The victims of crime are often forgotten in these debates. Each year in April we celebrate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and locally our district attorney honors victims and witnesses who show courage by participating in our criminal justice process under extraordinarily challenging circumstances. I hope the community and the media will pay an equally large amount of attention to these moving forward.

Third: We are entering into the process of hiring a new inspector general. I invite the public and the media to participate in the process by attending meetings of the Board of Supervisors where this is discussed — understanding that the primary job of the inspector general is to improve effectiveness of the Sheriff’s Department.

Finally, I think I speak for most of my constituents when I suggest that our politics can be — and must be — more civil. If nothing else, we should present a better example for our children than the hate, bitterness, and name-calling that is dragging everyone to the gutter. I, for one, have no intention of dwelling there.

Sue Frost represents the 4th District on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. She can be contacted at SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
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