Sandra Hutchens: Cleanup duty
Sandra Hutchens: Cleanup duty - latimes.com
Note: I was asked to add my comments by the staff here because somebody felt the truth wasn't being told. I'm embarrassed to be associated with this department at this point. I hate bosses that lie, I HATE Public officials who lie.
Sandra Hutchens: Cleanup duty
Sandra Hutchens understands when people ask to see the closet -- the office hideaway where her predecessor, disgraced former Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Michael S. Carona, kept a secret video recording system and a safe and who knows what else. (Somebody needs to interview retired Asst. Sheriff Doug Storm, who at the direction of Home Land Security (Wash, DC) had it installed, it was never a secret on the 2nd floor) It's just a closet now, cleaned out by Hutchens, who had a lot of metaphorical cleaning on her to-do list when she took over Carona's job in June 2008.
The longtime Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy and division chief was comfortably retired in O.C. when her husband urged her to pursue the job that Carona, convicted on one count in a five-count corruption trial, was forced to leave. (Carona is free pending an appeal of his conviction.) (I got word Thursday the conviction is being overturned) Hutchens was appointed sheriff by the Orange County Board of Supervisors and elected to the job outright by voters in June. She reads Alice Sebold and Stieg Larsson and cooks a mean Mediterranean lamb with apricots and cinnamon -- when she has time, which she hasn't lately. Why? Just a little matter of running the state's second-largest sheriff's office.
So you ran your first political campaign and won. How'd you like it?
It was an experience, I'll put it that way. Orange County is a lot different than L.A. County in terms of the politics. A lot of people viewed me as an outsider, which I was, but I've been a longtime resident of Orange County.
From the moment I got appointed, I spent a lot of time out in the community, so people would know who I was and to try to repair the reputation of the department. I would tell them I'd worked my way up through the ranks so I understood everything the men and women in this department do. I think that paid off. People liked the discussion about ethics, they liked the fact that I believe this office should be nonpartisan -- [candidates for sheriff] run as nonpartisan, but in the past it's been treated as partisan. I'd say I'm a sheriff first and a politician second. I would be asked questions like "Where do you stand on abortion?" My answer is, it's a non-issue; I don't make decisions related to that.
Where did the pushback come from?
I got appointed [in June 2008] on a 3-2 vote, and not everybody was happy. There was still this wave of anger about what had happened in the previous administration, and that carries over. Doesn't matter if you're the new kid on the block -- there's this distrust, and you've got to prove yourself.
Your critics have said, oh, she doesn't get Orange County culture. How would you define Orange County culture?
Maybe I was naive; (You still are!) I never saw the bright dividing line between L.A. and Orange County. We have a crime rate much lower than L.A. County; people are very proud of that. Business [is] very high-tech, very dynamic, but in terms of government, Orange County still has that small-town feel. People campaigning against me said, "She's going to bring L.A. to Orange County." One of my opponents said, "You drive up the 5 Freeway and you hit the L.A. County line, what do you see? Graffiti, trash." He goes through this litany, to invoke the image that that's what I'm going to bring.
What's it like inside the Sheriff's Department now?
I think morale is very good, (It's the worst it has ever been in recorded history; ask Nick and Wayne at the union HQ's )even though we've had to make cuts. People say, "I feel proud about being part of the Orange County Sheriff's Department again." When I was first appointed, I met with the city managers and city councils [of cities contracting with the sheriff], and there was not one complaint about our service, not one.
There's the feeling that people in the [department] must have known [about the corruption]. They didn't know. The line staff were out there doing their jobs. They weren't living in [Carona's] world, they weren't going to the parties. I'm told that at staff meetings, [Carona's team] would say, "What can we do today to make the sheriff look good?" That's not how we run an organization. (Just called 3 former Asst. Sheriffs, they had never heard this before. They were his staff)
Mike Carona did not have the experience or the background [in sheriff's work]. Mike Carona did not go out and make an arrest, he did not work in a police car, he did not work in a jail. (She might want to look at his resume, she's wrong)
What I found was a department that did not have modern policing policies, did not have systems of accountability, (Why did you beg the press to keep the cheating on the sergeants test quiet? It came from your accountability unit too!) a risk-management system. That was the biggest surprise to me when I came in.
Before you were in the running for sheriff, how did you regard the Carona scandal?
As a resident of Orange County, I was embarrassed. As a law enforcement professional, I was appalled. (What are you going to say when the conviction gets over-turned? Counting your eggs before they hatch?) Here's what got me: to have this happen in a community that supports law enforcement. That was the scary part for me. If people don't believe in us and trust us, we have no power.
News stories said Carona handed out concealed-weapons permits to contributors and friends. You told The Times you'd review those permits. What happened?
I was trying to bring the office back into compliance with the law. Does this person have a circumstance that puts them at greater risk than anybody else in the population? To me, that's the criteria. (Sheriff! Please point out WHERE it says that in CA Penal Code? WHERE?)
And oh my goodness, it became a gun rights issue, and gun rights advocates are single-focus. I would go to a meeting and [hear], "You're trying to take our guns out of the house." That's not the case. [Carona predecessor] Brad Gates at most had, like, 400 [permits]. Mike Carona had nearly 1,200. I [now] have about 850 or so. (Oh Yes! And all but 74 of the 2 years permits have the restriction of "course and scope of business", you always seem to forget that part.)
There's a law in California about carrying a concealed weapon. The gun rights advocates say, "If I ask for one, I should just get one." If that was the case, why would we have a law against it? (Hey Lady! We don't have a law against it! Penal Code 12050 through 12054 explain the issuance! Not against it!)
You had one clear adversary on the Board of Supervisors, Chris Norby, but now he's in the Assembly.
I know he was very disappointed that I was selected. He wasn't very helpful, I'll put it that way, but my relationship with the board right now is much better. I think they needed to learn a little bit about me and I about them. (She's dreaming! Several are looking for her head on a platter, still!)
At one point, the board accused your deputies of monitoring their note-taking with video cameras and of sending unflattering text messages.
Somebody noticed some command staff and others sitting there texting away. (Somebody? How about CCW holders!) We were given a public records request for the contents. (by OCCCWS.com)That created shock waves; nobody knew people could make public record act requests for your e-mail. (Really? It was common knowledge. Christine Hanely from the LA Times did it under Sheriff Corona.) It created some embarrassment for us, and I apologized to the board members and we got past it. (And you never released the tape even though you never owned it, property of the Board of supervisors. READ your own quote above "Here's what got me: to have this happen in a community that supports law enforcement." )
You've had to rely on the board for general fund money.
It's difficult. Money is tight. I made $53 million in cuts last year, and we're looking at additional cuts.
I laid off half my command staff because I didn't want to cut at the bottom. (12 hours after doing that in a power point presentation you stated you just got rid of the "B Team" and was going to replace it with your "A Team", which you did shortly afterwords. Do you remember Sheriff, the bus photo Ryan made for you? Need a copy? Several Lawyers have it.) I laid off some non-sworn positions. We've frozen a lot of positions. I created a civilian [employee] classification in the jails, so ultimately 35% of our jail positions will be positions that can be manned by someone other than a full deputy sheriff, which will save us $10 million a year, which will prevent me from having to lay off more people. (Why not save 80 million and go 100% non-sworn like Santa Clara County did?)
We've also got a contract with ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house detainees waiting for deportation proceedings.] We have about 500 ICE detainees. We're lucky; our county jail population's been down, so it's given us bed space for the contract [which could ultimately net $18 million]. It helps us bridge our budget gap.
Empty jail space? Ordinarily crime goes up in a bad economy.
I said the same thing.
I think with three strikes -- under the theory that the same small percentage [of people] commits most of the crimes -- [offenders] are not getting [out]. I think the other thing that makes a difference is our collaborative courts programs -- veterans' court, drug court, where people are diverted into programs. It's a carrot-and-stick approach. If you don't stick with the program, you go to jail. Most comply, and I think that's keeping them out of jail.
Those programs, and your "Great Escape" program for people cleaning up their acts -- can you argue they're conservative because they conserve money?
One thing I [tell] groups is how much it costs to keep somebody in jail -- $80 to $100 a day. When you hit 'em in the pocketbook, that gets people's attention. If [offenders in the programs] have a job on the outside, and they're not a violent threat, why not have them on an ankle bracelet instead of costing all these taxpayer dollars?
Thirty years ago, when you were a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, you and your partner (she married him) shot and killed a man. (UNARMED!) The department found it to be "in policy," but a civil jury concluded otherwise. Does that go some way toward the rank and file's understanding that you know what their jobs are like?
I understand what they're going through, how the public perception of the shooting impacts you. Some of the roughest, toughest cops have the worst time with those kind of incidents. When I got involved in the shooting, we didn't have someone checking to see if you're OK. I've gotten to see that progress. I know I did the right thing, I felt my life was in danger, but you've taken somebody's life. And you live with that.
Are people already asking you about running for reelection?
I said I'll run a second time (Oh God! Please help us!) and I'll see after that. If there's somebody inside the organization who decides at some point they want to be sheriff and they're qualified, (Who Board? LaFlore?) I'd love to help them get there. Hopefully the next sheriff can come from within the department.
You began in L.A. as a secretary, before you became a deputy. Now you're one of only three female sheriffs in California. Here in Orange County, someone thought it was clever to call you the "she-riff." (LOL! OCCCWS did)
When I got appointed, people [asked], "How does it feel to be the first female sheriff?" It's not about being female, it's about being qualified. Men [at events] will have their young daughters with them and say, "I just want my daughters to meet you so they know they can do anything they want." Little girls see women in positions of power, they can see themselves there, so I feel good about that. I think most women in law enforcement just want to be recognized for doing a good job. It'd be great if we got to a 50-50 balance in law enforcement, women and men.
What was it like to see your name on campaign buttons?
We didn't have campaign buttons, but we had the fliers. I tell you what was interesting -- to see my name on a campaign sign in somebody's yard.
The other part is when your name is on the ballot, and voting for yourself -- and I did vote for myself.
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Last edited by Gladiator : 11-12-2010 at 07:49 PM.
You never really NEED a gun until you REALLY need a gun...W. E. B. Griffin.
When I carry a gun, I donít do so because I am looking for a fight, but because Iím looking to be left alone...Marko Kloos
NRA Distinguished Life Member
A bunch of softball questions from a left wing member of the liberal press. No follow through, because Patt Morrison does not have the LEO background necessary to understand the answers she is being fed.
Patt was in way over her head or intended to do a whitewash in this interview. Either way, a complete waste of newsprint and ink.
I have always believed that Sheriff Carona angered the wrong person and that this was just a witch hunt.
From the beginning I've thought he'd get acquitted of all wrongdoing but not until his reputation and pocket book were totally trashed.
Maybe I was right all along?
Maybe it was that he is a Conservative?
Maybe it was that he was "Issuing"?
"Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure that there is one less scoundrel in the world." ---Thomas Carlyle