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San Benito County is a treasure worth protecting, but in recent years the safety of our community has been put at risk due to irresponsible policy decisions made by our county’s leaders. People expect to feel safe in their home and around their community, yet we have seen crime steadily increase as our Sheriff’s Department has suffered large cutbacks to its workforce. If a community is considered unsafe due to rising crime levels, home values decline and the region becomes less desirable for residents, families, and business owners. San Benito County must invest in a strong public safety system that ensures low crimes rates and a high quality of life.

In 2007, my sister Elizabeth was the victim of violence here in San Benito County. She was murdered in a senseless act of violence that has impacted my family for years. No one in this community deserves to endure such pain. That is why public safety will be a top priority of mine when elected to the County Board of Supervisors.

Budget Cuts to the Sheriff’s Department

The shortsighted budget cuts to the Sheriff’s Department along with the effects of prison realignment have led to higher crime rates in our communities. The county supervisors have made questionable decisions when it comes to providing the adequate resources needed for our law enforcement departments and the safety of our residents has been jeopardized as a result.

Over the last four years, Deputies have been laid off left and right, limiting their ability to perform their duties and leaving many areas in our county unpatrolled. At a time when prison overcrowding has forced criminals back onto our streets, we must find ways to increase the safety in our communities and protect our families. The decision to relieve experienced peace officers of their sworn duty to protect and serve is not the answer, and without the adequate resources or manpower, our officers are significantly restricted in their ability to protect the community against a range of threats.

Prior to these cuts, San Benito already had one of the smallest sheriff’s departments per capita in the state. Yet in 2012 alone, a 40 percent reduction in the number of deputies patrolling the county led to a decline in the number of arrests by 5 percent and the number of citations by 40 percent. We have only begun to experience the effects of reduced staffing levels and surely crime will continue to rise if changes are not made.

The rural quality of San Benito County poses many challenges for law enforcement departments that other less expansive counties and regions do not face. There is a lot of territory to cover and reduced staffing levels means less frequent patrols and slower response times when law enforcement is needed. The reduction of deputies in 2012 was compounded by an 8 percent increase in calls for service.  As the demand on a smaller number of deputies grows, the opportunity for injury and insufficient service drastically increases. There are now only 20 available deputies for patrolling large expanses of the county. Many times these same deputies also respond to calls from Hollister in addition to their county territory in which they are responsible.

Response Times for Calls Slowing

Our residents are now receiving much slower service from the Sheriff’s Department in the event of a serious emergency. Between 2011 and 2013, the average response time increased by nearly 40 percent for Priority 2 calls and 7 percent for Priority 1 calls. In many emergencies, a matter of minutes can save someone’s life and the reductions made to the Sheriff’s Department have limited their ability to respond in a timely fashion. This is an issue that cannot be ignored and must be addressed immediately.

If our residents cannot trust that officers will respond when they need them most, then they have every right to question the decisions being made about the welfare of their community. Even routine calls for law enforcement now have staggering wait times of nearly 30 minutes.

Negative Effects of Crime on a Community

A 2010 study performed by Florida State University examined national crime rate patterns and found that crimes like robbery and assault had an adverse effect on property values. If we do not fully commit to providing our Sheriff’s Department with the adequate resources needed for our protection, our property values will begin to plummet and the potential of our great county will be lost to the proliferation of crime.

As a rural county with a small population, we cannot afford to be labeled as an unsafe community. This will hurt our property values as well as the residents and families who have sacrificed for an ability to own their own home.  It is clear that more resources are needed for law enforcement.


It’s time for new leadership at the County Board Supervisors. I believe that if elected, I can make the difficult decisions to secure funding for the high-quality public safety system that we deserve. I have gained the support of the San Benito Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the Hollister Police Officers’ Association in my race for county supervisor. Their support signifies my commitment to getting more officers back in our community and patrolling the streets. Three Deputies left to patrol the entire county is unsafe and irresponsible. We have one of the best communities in all of the state and we deserve to protect its way of life.

I pledge to restore the budget cuts that have been made to the Sheriff’s Department by the current supervisors and restore the number of deputies patrolling our community. We must also restore the dedicated south county deputies, as it is much needed for those residents who already pay their fair share of taxes to have this service. Lastly, we must increase the overall size of the Sheriff’s Department to be more in line with counties our size around the state. We have always had one of the smallest departments per capita and this clearly must improve. Providing the funding to meet these needs will be a challenge, but public safety is a core service that government provides. This means prioritizing it above other less essential services. I believe we can find the right balance in order to restore our Sheriff’s Department.

I am confident that San Benito County has a bright future, but we need the right leaders in our county government to make this a reality.

I hope I can count on your vote to move our county forward.

Victor Gomez, candidate for San Benito County Supervisor – District 4

(831) 245-6446