San Benito County Superior Court Judge Omar Rodriguez introduced Capt. Eric Taylor of the County’s Sheriff’s Department June 25 to an audience composed primarily of law enforcement officers, city and county representatives, and family members. Rodriguez then swore Taylor in as the 16th Sheriff of the county who will serve out outgoing Sheriff Darren Thompson’s term until Jan. 2023.
The San Benito County Board of Supervisors appointed Taylor as acting Sheriff-Coroner April 27.
After he was sworn in and received the Sheriff’s badge and four stars on each shoulder, Taylor first introduced his extensive family who was present, then told the audience that as a child he had wanted to be either a police officer or fireman. He explained the dichotomy of having a perfect childhood with two parents and being part of a tight knit Portuguese family with no abuse, addictions or violence that did not prepare him for the “horrors in the city I grew up in.”
“I had been sheltered growing up,” he said. “There’s a side of our communities that many of you will never see, but it’s these things that drive me and many of the men and women who work with me to pursue justice and protect those who are most vulnerable.”
Taylor said the job is not about power and control, but honor, service and protection. He said it’s common for people to use social media to fight over trivial matters that are insignificant when compared to the real suffering going on in the community, the state and the nation.
He said law enforcement officers are guardians of secrets, keeping to themselves the sadness, pain and afflictions they encounter every day.
“I promise I will expect my deputies to police with compassion, empathy and bravery,” he said.
Taylor said it is his responsibility to enforce laws passed by the legislation and it is “not the role of the Sheriff to pick and choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore,” which he said, “threatens equal protection under the law.”
He said it is imperative to adhere to the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law.
“For an elected official to choose what to enforce based on personal or political beliefs, I would submit to you that it is unconstitutional,” he said. “I swear and affirm to this community we will enforce laws without bias, without regard to social status, religion or any other protection afforded by law.”
Taylor said it is important to understand how to take a person’s freedom without taking their dignity. He said his deputies must follow the law enforcement code of ethics if they want to work for him.
Taylor joined the San Benito County Sheriff’s Department in 2014, where he served as captain of operations. Apart from the department, he is the co-chairman of the Child Abuse Prevention Council, a Rotary member, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and sits on the LULAC Farm Worker Taskforce, and is on the San Benito Opioid Taskforce. Taylor also writes a regularly occurring column for BenitoLink.
COVID and the Sheriff’s badge
Outgoing Sheriff Darren Thompson told BenitoLink that because of COVID, the company that manufactures the badges was weeks behind in orders and Taylor’s badge would not arrive for several weeks. The two lawmen came up with a unique solution. Taylor would have the loan of Thompson’s badge until his was delivered in a few weeks. In essence it was a badge on loan.
It is common for spouses and children to pin the badges and other symbols of rank on the uniforms. In this instance, the two couples stood next to each other and as Thompson’s wife, Natalie, took off his badge and then handed it to Taylor’s wife, Jaqueline, who pinned it on his uniform. Then Taylor’s two daughters pinned on four stars on each shoulder.
BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is working around the clock during this time when accurate information is essential. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s news.