When one is the leader of a law enforcement agency, and we have a national tragedy like we just witnessed with the death of Tyre Nichols, one must try to do the right thing at the right time, knowing it will not please everybody. It also needs to be framed in a manner that is not self-serving or for political points. It needs to be genuine.
I understand we are all innocent until proven guilty. My team needs to know I believe that internally, and our community needs to know I believe that externally. For our law enforcement supporters, I also know that is not always the case when “cops” are accused of criminal behavior. The exact people who do not want us to cast quick judgment on the accused in our communities are the ones who condemn police without all the facts. It is a strange paradigm.
I have been an arrest control trainer since 2001, a baton and handcuffing instructor since 2004, and a Taser Instructor since 2006. I have testified in state and federal courts as a use of force expert. In short, I know what it takes to do this job correctly, even when force is warranted. And using force never “looks good,” especially on video. As I have written before, we were taught to “take a person’s freedom, without taking their dignity” by retired Chief Terry Medina. I expect the same from my team here in San Benito County.
When the videos from Memphis were released, I knew I needed to make a statement without trying to make it about “us.” The focus at that point needed to be on the community of Memphis, and it was not a time to grandstand for our own causes. However, to continue to improve, we need to look at the transgressions of others and ensure we do not repeat them.
Any law enforcement leader who promised “that will never happen here” is taking a big gamble. We cannot guarantee what another human being is capable of, or not capable of doing. However, I can tell you I am confident the people working here at the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office are not of the character that would ever do or allow such a thing. I ensure that our dedicated team has the right temperament and heart to do this job. It is an expectation we have set here. We maintain high standards of character, and we do not waiver. However, I can guarantee you this behavior will never be tolerated here as long as I am your Sheriff.
From community engagement to revamped training curriculum to body-worn cameras, being transparent and responsive is not just wordplay for us here. It is what we strive to be great at and we are committed to what we do. We seek talented individuals who are from our community, are reflective of our community, and also those who want to move their families here to serve the community in which they live. I implemented a Professional Standards Division in our office when I took over in 2021. Poor performance and behavior are not tolerated, and excellent performance is rewarded.
San Benito County is my home. I have raised my children here from their birth. It is a special place full of good people. You can have trust and confidence in your Sheriff’s Office. And if you find yourself unsatisfied with our performance, please let us know at [email protected] or by calling 831 636-4080.