In response to the Riverside County Democratic Party's resolution that calls for the Board of Supervisors to appoint a police review commission to provide oversight for all law enforcement in the County, the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association issued the following statement.
Preserving the peace is a cornerstone of our mission and is an integral component in the fabric of our democracy. Accomplishing that mission encompasses many strategies, which include building strong community partnerships, and preventing crime. Riverside County Sheriff Deputies are dedicated to serving the community protecting both life and property. We accomplish that mission daily in line with the directives given by both the Sheriff and political leadership of the County, whether in daily police work or during times of unrest.
The belief that “civilian oversight commissions” are the great elixir to law enforcement oversight is greatly misplaced. These commissions are often filled with political appointees who have little prior knowledge of the law enforcement work, even though they are empowered to second guess the actions of law enforcement. In contrast, Sheriff Department detectives who investigate use of force by deputies are intimately familiar with the departments’ rules and regulations regarding use of force, and the training that deputies receive. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, which investigates all deadly uses of force and other uses of force if needed, is intimately familiar with the body of law which governs whether a use of force is a violation of criminal law. In addition, there is an elected Sheriff who makes the ultimate determination as to whether a use of force was in violation of policy and can implement changes to policy or training if evidence suggests such changes are needed. It is the last part of the equation above---an elected Sheriff—that provides ultimate accountability to residents for the actions of the Sheriff’s Department.
The statement from the Riverside County Democratic Party (RCDP) ignores the fact that the Sheriff is elected. The fundamental way residents of this great Country determine the direction of their public agencies, including the Office of the Sheriff, is at the ballot box. Every four years, an elected Sheriff must justify their performance and that of the department they lead, anyone with law enforcement experience, who has a different view or vision is free to run against the incumbent Sheriff. That is real oversight and accountability! If the RCDP believes that there needs to be a change in policing, then they can follow the democratic process and see if the voters of this great County agree.