When Tom Dominguez took over as president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs earlier this year, he challenged his board of directors to do a frank self-assessment of their organization.
"We did a lot of soul searching," said Dominguez.
So it wasn't much of a surprise that the consultants told AOCDS it doesn't communicate very well, both with the public and its own members.
What is surprising is what the board chose to do about it.
It reached out to Kimberly Edds, one of the county's most high-profile reporters and one with years of experience reporting on public safety.
The labor group, which represents nearly 2,000 deputy sheriffs in Orange County, has historically been a closed shop, giving even the most experienced media consultants a tough time because of their reluctance to engage in public debate.
"It was clear we were lacking in this area," said Dominguez. "We're not experts in this."
Historic labor negotiations are coming up this year, in which deputies will likely be pressured to contribute more to their pensions and accept lower benefits. Dominguez said the association believed it was important to open up and more effectively present its case to the public and elected officials.
"It's a great fit given my background," Edds said. "That's exactly the reason I'm here, to foster a better working relationship between the press, the public and our association's members. Breaking down barriers is good for everyone involved."
Edds graduated from UCLA, worked in the Los Angeles bureau of the Washington Post, and began her tenure at the Orange County Register in 2005. She grew up in Escondido and loves to hunt.
Dominquez said Edds stood out because of her experience covering the Orange County Board of Supervisors in addition to her years in the trenches with law enforcement personnel.
"I consulted with a lot of people locally, asked a lot of questions, and there were few people that could fit the bill of what we looking for," Dominguez said.
He said he was particularly happy that Edds would also be joining the Voice of OC Community Editorial Board. "Already her acquisition is paying dividends, because we're going to have a voice on that editorial board," he said.
"I'm very happy with my position and the team I'm able to work with," Edds said. "The staff at AOCDS is fantastic. It's really nice to be part of a great team."