The June 5, 2018 primary race for San Benito County Sheriff-Coroner is set with incumbent Darren Thompson and Deputy Sheriff Bill Hutchison.
Sheriff Thompson is no stranger to law enforcement. He grew up in Santa Cruz and spent much of his life in Salinas before moving to Hollister. Thompson said he grew up in Santa Cruz at the time it called was “murder capital of the world”. Principal Investigator Terry Medina handled two of the key murder cases. Medina would later become Thompson’s mentor at the Watsonville Police Department.
“I’ve learned a lot from Terry Medina while at Watsonville and he developed the person I am today,” Thompson said. The incumbent uses a lot of Medina’s principles today in his official capacity, he said.
Before being elected sheriff in November 2010, Thompson served in various positions at the Watsonville Police Department starting in 1988. Positions included corporal, detective for family crimes and homicide, sergeant, training officer, and lieutenant.
If re-elected, Thompson said he will stay and continue developing several projects that are being implemented at the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office. These projects include a body camera project, new computers to speed up work and stay out in the community, installing new radio equipment, and expanding the county’s jail.
The biggest challenge at the sheriff’s department is staffing, Thompson said.
“We’re struggling to fill positions and need to increase our staffing opportunities,” he said.
Thompson mentioned one community challenge is the homeless and the increased rate of those who don’t respond to services made available for them.
“I’m firm believer in collaboration,” Thompson said. “We need community and government support to reach out to them and provide services to address their needs.”
With the increased cannabis activity in San Benito County, Thompson said this is an issue the sheriff’s office will have to work with and enforce a scheme providing oversight and transparency for the people operating legally.
“We have implemented new body cameras, but the product is not exactly television quality,” Thompson said. “It does demonstrate our willingness to be transparent and accountable, so far our staff has proven themselves worthy of holding community trust.”
Thompson is a believer in Sir Robert Peel, one of the founding fathers of policing in a free society and two-time prime minister for the United Kingdom. Peel’s second principle, described by Thompson as, “the ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions,” has shaped Thompson’s 30-year career.
To contact Darren Thompson, email [email protected]
BenitoLink attempted to contact candidate and Deputy Bill Hutchison for an interview several times, both by email and telephone but did not receive a response.
According to his campaign website:
Hutchison has been a part of San Benito County for over 40 years. He mentions on the website that his wife and children appreciate being part of family-oriented community where safety is a priority. As a former small business owner, Hutchison learned to delegate responsibility and lead with integrity.
Currently a deputy for the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office, Hutchison has held numerous positions including serving as an acting sergeant, search and rescue coordinator, field training officer, and president of the San Benito Deputy Sheriff's Association. Most recently, Hutchison became one of two K-9 handlers at the local sheriff’s office.
“I will strive to implement ongoing transparency and commitment to public safety,” Hutchison’s website states.
Via his website, Hutchison said he will address issues like increasing patrol staff in San Benito County, establishing school resource deputies, providing training for the PTSD and special needs community, fixing radio communications, improving police effectiveness, and transparency, and will support carry concealed weapons.