Monterey County Sheriff: Mike Richards

Party/Affiliation: none

Current Job: retired Monterey County Sheriff's Commander

Family: Two daughters, Michelle and Alexandra

Top 3 Priorities if Elected:

1. Fiscal Responsibility: The current Sheriff's Administration has not effectively and efficiently managed your tax dollars. I will focus it on what I am elected to do… public safety.

2. The Jail: The Monterey County Jail is overcrowded, understaffed, outdated and dilapidated. I will use innovative strategies to bring about positive changes to the facility, the efficiency, and the safety of both the deputies and the inmates.

3. Crime: Crime - especially gang violence, narcotics related crimes (including burglaries) and agricultural-related crimes  - continues to be out of control. I will look to implement new and innovative strategies to aggressively address these issues both in the short term and with long term solutions to help deter our youth from entering a life of crime.

How do you plan to implement these priorities?

1. The sheriff is entrusted with an annual budget in excess of $80 million. It is incumbent on the sheriff to be fiscally responsible and spend your tax dollars appropriately. The current sheriff's administration has not done well here. Much of your money has been spent on other agendas with no clear benefit to the public concern. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly millions, have been spent on non-public safety issues, such as defending lawsuits, hiring consultants, generally mismanaging resources and personnel in an inefficient manner. Result: personnel have been cut and critical services eliminated. This all threatens public safety.

I would work collaboratively with all Sheriff's Office personnel to develop new strategies to reduce costs. I would encourage innovative and creative ways to improve public safety at a lower cost to tax payers. These strategies include government grants, partnerships with other entities, asset forfeiture, and simply good common sense budget management.

The current administration has misused funds by staffing a number of outside contractors being compensated as highly paid "management analysts." Hiring so many people from outside the department and outside the county has further negatively impacted the morale of the office and resulted in exemplary existing staff being denied promotional opportunities in favor of cronyism. Lastly, it has been difficult for members of the community to see exactly how their money is being spent.

As your sheriff, my office's budget and spending would be transparent and focused on using all of our resources conscientiously and effectively.

2. Jail:  The current staffing is inadequate. Absenteeism, worker's compensation claims and lack of trained personnel are chronic symptoms. Band aid measures to fix these problems have been ineffective. The jail has seen its fourth chief in the last 3 years. Three have been part-time, retired, from outside the county. They are not familiar with the issues and are not invested in the success of the county. The current administration's use of outside personnel for a "fresh perspective" has not been successful. I would look to current staff consisting of individuals with decades of Monterey County law enforcement, jail and institutional knowledge for new and innovative strategies.

The jail is the subject of civil litigation brought forward by groups concerned about the medical and other treatment of inmates, as well as the condition of the jail overall. The jail expansion is moving forward, but slowly. For solutions, I would look for an audit by the state Correction Standards Authority, meet with the DSA for their ideas, meet with groups litigating conditions and ask for their solutions, and visit other county jails and see how they do business.

Recidivism in Monterey County is 74 percent. I would strive to evaluate inmates for mental health, drug, educational and employment programs to reduce this rate and implement these programs in-house. I would also look toward sentencing options that would still hold inmates accountable for their crimes, but yet allow them to work and contribute to the community.

3. Drug arrests are down, yet drug related crimes such as burglary and theft are up. As sheriff, I would increase focus on the narcotics unit and aggressively pursue drug traffickers using all resources available. I also want to promote anti-drug educational programs for civic organizations and our schools.

Gang violence, including shootings and homicides, continues to be a problem that plagues our county. The Monterey County Joint Gang Task Force was a step in the right direction, but now is only a partial shell of what it used to be. Lately, its focus has been primarily in the City of Salinas. I do agree that Salinas has the lion's share of gang problems, but I also want to return to a more county-wide approach to aggressively addressing gang violence. Additionally, I want to seek long term solutions. Youth mentoring is key. I would want a direct interaction between the Sheriff's Office and youth groups such as Rancho Cielo, Second Chance Youth Program and others for solutions that would give our youth other focus and direction besides gangs and drugs.

Agriculture is a $4 billion dollar industry in Monterey County. Crimes against the ag industry significantly impact the economy of the County. The Ag Crime unit under the current administration is woefully inadequate. I have a 14-point plan to proactively and reactively address ag crimes and give the "Salad Bowl of the World" the necessary and appropriate law enforcement protection it deserves.

comments powered by Disqus