Sheriff Bill Gore
By any measure the year 2010 was a high profile year for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. The public watched as we launched a massive search for a missing teenage girl and then went about identifying and arresting her killer. They watched as we said good-by to a beloved colleague and friend, killed in the line of duty. They scrutinized the Department in a contested election, ultimately deciding it was on the right course. The public witnessed action, unprecedented in California and rare in public safety, as we burned to the ground a house that had become a factory for making volatile explosives.
By any measure a high profile year, it was by every measure a year of successes—some large, some small, all due to the professionalism of the men and women who make up the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. Sworn deputies and professional staff alike embraced challenges as an attribute of their daily duty.
The year brought with it serious threats to public safety.
Felons in our community. In 2009 a federal panel of judges ordered the release of State prison inmates in order to shrink California’s prison population. Meanwhile, in the face of budget cuts, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation introduced measures that sharply reduce the supervision of State parolees.
Undersheriff Jim Cooke
The “Non-Revocable Parole” program meant that many parolees living in our community would not have to report to a parole officer and could not be violated and incarcerated for violating “terms of parole.”
Together these events presented local law enforcement with a dire prospect: the release of a record number of felons and the presence of unsupervised felons in our neighborhoods.
Border crime, border violence. Throughout 2010, Mexico’s battle with drug cartels remained at a fever pitch. Consequently, Mexico’s criminals looked north. At the close of 2009 federal authorities announced that officers assigned to the southern border intercepted more than $40 million in contraband cash in a six month span, twice the amount seized the year before. Hard evidence developed that Southern California street gangs were sending weapons south in exchange for drugs. Killings among rival drug cartels in Mexico and ordered hits against Mexican law enforcement became everyday headlines in 2010.
Through the Sheriff’s Border Crime Suppression Team law enforcement has fought back. Our approach is regional and our multi-agency task force approach is making headway in our fight against border crime. Cited as a “Best Practice” in the fight against border violence, our Border Crime Suppression initiative has garnered millions of dollars in federal grant money. The battle is far from over.
These public safety threats position themselves alongside crime problems that stalk every American urban area: sexual assaults, child abuse, and elder abuse; street crime—burglaries, robberies, auto thefts, and assaults; drug trafficking and alcohol fueled crimes and deaths; identity theft and other white collar crimes.
These ordinary crime problems threaten the quality of life in our neighborhoods. To counter them we have taken extraordinary steps to protect the public and reduce crime.
Patrol as priority. These are tough economic times. Families have been hurt by the downturn in our economy. And so have the budgets of governmental agencies, including the Sheriff’s Department. Amidst the financial crisis I made a public commitment: to maintain a strong field presence through a fully staffed patrol operation.
Today, there are more deputy sheriffs in patrol cars on more public streets than any time in the history of the Sheriff’s Department. They are making a difference. In addition to responding to a record number of calls for service, they have initiated more activity than ever. The result: reduced crime and safer neighborhoods.
Intelligence led policing. Not only are their numbers the greatest in our history, but our patrol deputies are working smarter than ever. We have made a tactical decision to increase our reliance on the work of our Crime Analysis team. The aim is to know where parolees and probationers are living in each patrol beat and to rely upon that information to solve crimes and solve them more quickly. In 2010 we began a pilot project in North County called Watchful Eye that partners our patrol deputies with probation officers to track known offenders. This is an example of intelligence led policing and the Sheriff’s Department is actively finding ways to make it a regular part of patrol and investigative operations.
Forensic technology. The San Diego Sheriff’s Regional Crime Laboratory has emerged as one of the foremost forensic labs in California and the nation. The Lab has pioneered the deployment of forensic DNA technology not only to solve homicides and sexual assaults, but also street crimes—robberies, burglaries, and auto thefts. Our Rapid Response DNA Team, devoted to help solve these crimes, is the first of its kind in California.
Regional task forces. The abiding legacy of Sheriff Bill Kolender, who served as Sheriff from 1995 until June of 2009 and served in law enforcement for half a century, was regional cooperation. The problems of street gangs, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, organized crime, computer crime, and sophisticated rip-off scams cross jurisdictional boundaries. They demand a regional approach. San Diego County law enforcement is renowned for working jointly across jurisdictional lines: the Sheriff’s Department works closely with city police chiefs and their officers, with State law enforcement, and with the FBI, DEA, Customs, Border Patrol and other federal agencies.
Making custody time count. In direct response to the threat posed by a rising population of felons in our community and our local jails, our Department has made a serious effort to reduce recidivism — the likelihood that an offender, upon his release from custody, will continue to commit crimes. Throughout 2010 the Sheriff’s Department worked with representatives of the District Attorney, the Public Defender, the Courts, and Probation to create a program designed to attack recidivism. The San Diego Local Re-entry Program (LRP) attacks those problems inmates face that typically lead to them committing new crimes: drug addiction, anger management and life skills.
The mission of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department is clear: to make San Diego “the safest urban county in the nation.” To achieve this mission requires strategic vision and sound tactics; it requires a commitment to professionalism; just as significantly, it requires partners who become force multipliers.
In our fight against crime the Sheriff’s Department is blessed with a cadre of immensely talented volunteers, who augment the efforts of our staff. Without citizen support groups such as our Search and Rescue Team, the Honorary Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, Senior Volunteers, and the Law Enforcement Foundation, the pursuit of our mission would be at best quixotic; we would be tilting at windmills. Instead, because of them, we take steps every day that bring us closer to making achievement of our mission a practical reality.
Finally, I want to personally acknowledge the County’s leadership. These men and women provide invaluable support to the Sheriff’s Department and law enforcement regionally. I begin with the County Board of Supervisors — Greg Cox, Dianne Jacob, Pam Slater-Price, Ron Roberts, and Bill Horn. Their commitment to law enforcement is second to none. That is reflected in daily operations, led by Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins Meyer, and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Ray Fernandez, who leads the professionals at the County’s Public Safety Group.
Without these leaders, the Sheriff’s Department could not serve.
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to the citizens of San Diego County. Your support, partnership and friendship make us a better organization and enable us to serve you. Thank you for your support.
William D. Gore, Sheriff
San Diego County