Santana: Orange County Faces a Public Safety Leadership Crisis

Orange County Sheriff's Department Academy class. (Photo credit: OCSD)

Just about every single regional public safety agency in Orange County is facing a total leadership crisis.

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens recently announced her retirement, amidst a deepening crisis over the department’s use of jail informants where Judge Thomas Goethals all but called her a liar over her department’s stonewalling of records. Sheriff Deputies, through their union, are suing her alleging Orange County jails are a total mess.

Her credibility is shot.

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, also wounded by the same jailhouse informant scandal as well as audits uncovering leadership issues and lawsuits by investigators alleging political corruption, next year faces a stiff re-election challenge from a well-funded challenger, County Supervisor Todd Spitzer.

Orange County Fire Authority Chief Jeff Bowman, who heads another regional agency in crisis, also recently stepped down just after a managers’ union gave him a vote of no-confidence.

Orange County supervisors – who so far haven’t touched the issue of public safety management other than to grant substantial salary and benefit raises to Sheriff’s Deputies and dismantle the Office of Independent Review – are in for a possibly rough year.

They potentially will have to lead.

County supervisors have largely avoided just about every tough decision on installing an appropriate accountability mechanism over themselves – stalling on the implementation of an ethics commission and leaving key accountability slots like the Performance Auditor empty.

Yet coming out of Labor Day is traditionally the start of the political season.

That means local issues heat up, get caught up in campaigns.

This past election cycle, the issue locally was homelessness, and it drove the county supervisors race that ultimately witnessed the re-election of incumbent County Supervisor Andrew Do – who set up the Courtyard Transition Center to help homeless people in his district a month before election day.

What will the narrative of 2018 shape up to be?

Four congressional races are expected to put a national focus on Orange County this year.

In North County, longtime incumbent Congressman Ed Royce is looking at a host of active challengers. Down in South County, Congresswoman Mimi Walters is also drawing challenges early. Huntington Beach Congressman Dana Rohrabacher may even draw an internal challenge as well as a host of Democratic challengers. I keep running into candidates who are challenging Congressman Darrell Issa as well.

That’s not to mention the ongoing recall of State Sen. Josh Newman over his vote on the state gas tax hike.

Yet this year, here in Orange County we have a special opportunity to really engage our office seekers in a real, local debate about our quality of life.

Given the stark public safety leadership crisis in Orange County, we need to be asking some tough questions of our regional leaders rather than getting distracted by the usual horse-race drama driven by pollsters.

  • verifiedsane

    Being without stick housing is a growing problem and population that is not going away just by moving or driving this population from one encampment to another…and eventually back onto the streets and underbellies of our communities…every human being needs to sleep, eat, and defecate…this represents the most basic biology of our human condition..simply using the old eugenics mentality of calling every without stick home person either mentally ill or a drug addict shows the ignorance and group think mentality being employed by some police state vocal provocateurs in relation to this problem….Being without a stick home is a complex and multi faceted problem that encompasses economic and social ramifications far beyond what is being presented by these few “demonizing & stigmatizing” not in my city or river bed zealots..The drive them away pundits are always talking about fantastical options that don’t currently exist. That is not offering viable alternatives or solutions, it’s just vocally pandering to the masses against this mainly voiceless and powerless segment of today’s greater society. Why not, these are the easiest of targets to attack after all.

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  • Ed Romero

    Capt Wylie Davis, Yes you should be APPALLED. As my Office Manager at the Orange County Probation Department use to say and I quote “can’t our Deputy Sheriff/Security Guards keep their Penises in there shorts and their Zippers closed”. We caught one of these Deputy Sheriff/Security Guards at least 3 times with our Clerical Staff, he was FINALLY rotated (not FIRED) and his replacement began doing the same thing, I caught him having Sex with this Female Clerk in our Coffee Break Room. The Lesbians that ran our Department back then won’t any better, there was that Asst. Chief Probation Officer who had her very own Gang of Drug Dealers, most of them Deputy Probation Officer’s, like the one that was arrested 4 times for Sale of Marijuana (Felony), the one arrested 5 times for Drunk Driving and that Lesbian from our Los Pinos Detention Center that was caught Snorting or Freebasing Cocaine while on duty, the Director FIRED her and that corrupt Asst. Chief Probation Officer REHIRED her because according to that former Detention Officer she could get her all the Young Stuff and all the Best Drugs that that Asst. Chief Probation Officer could handled, that Asst. Chief use to Smoke so much Marijuana while on duty that my co-workers gave her the AKA/Marijuana Nancy, she would receive Drug Deliveries right into her Office by all those corrupt Drug Dealers she hired. As if that wasn’t bad enough there was that Gay Deputy Probation Officer that couldn’t get ENOUGH of all those Young Mexican Boys and Men, orally copulated them while on duty and EVERYONE knew what he was doing but followed Orange County Policy “keep your mouth shut, don’t say anything and look the other way”. As they say at the Orange County Sheriff Department which was EXPOSED during the Gates and Carmona Trials “do the right thing”. The Acting Supervisor in our Records Unit WARNED me to keep my mouth shut if I wanted to keep my job, I reported what I saw and it cost me my Job and almost my life. Yes there is something wrong if you are employed by the County of Orange and you allow a bunch of Corrupt, Drug Dealing, Marijuana Smoking, Cocaine Snorting Lesbians RUN WILD.

    • Capt Wylie Davis

      Time for your med’s Ed.

    • Debby Bodkin

      Mr. Romero…. I can sympathize that after you reported wrongdoing as an employee of the County of Orange, you were fired (while others in positions of authority were promoted and guaranteed lifetime employment). Tragically, it is now the norm that any type of wrongdoing and/or crime report made to the OC District Attorney, OC Sheriff or OC Board of Supervisors is followed by some type of illegal retaliation with the intent to SILENCE the public. When it comes to PUBLIC SAFETY and the duty of law enforcement to protect children from sexual predators, school zone gun violence and civil rights violations, DA Rackauckas has failed precious children when it relates to prosecuting employees of the Catholic Diocese of Orange for failures to report sex crimes against minors and violations of the Gun Free Schools Act, as mandated by law.

      The DA’s Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder, has publicly stated and obviously believes that political retaliation is not considered a “hate crime” in accordance with California’s Penal Code. Ms. Schroeder’s twisted philosophy about what is and what is not a “hate crime” is a disgrace! IMO, it is Ms. Schroeder’s management of the largest Orange County prosecutorial agency that continues to place children and families at serious risk if allowed to continue without federal intervention.

  • Capt Wylie Davis

    Thanks for bringing light to this crisis. As a retired law enforcement official I’m appalled at what I see in Orange County with the sheriff’s department and other area agencies. There is a total lack of leadership on law enforcement issues, most particularly with the homeless issue. This is evidenced by the idiot police chief who just came up with his new computer program for the public to determine which jurisdiction is prevalent around the river bed. 15 people have died in San Diego from Hepatitis A after the homeless pissed and crapped on the streets of San Diego uncontrolled. Someone should have been indicted for those deaths. Now I’m just waiting to see what pandemic arises out of the riverbed for Orange County residents.

    • David Zenger

      “15 people have died in San Diego from Hepatitis A after the homeless pissed and crapped on the streets of San Diego uncontrolled.”

      Then providing toilets seems to make practical sense, at least in the short run, right?

      • Sergio Garcia

        Showers too! And new clothes would be nice. And of course three square meals a day. And everyone should get a little plot of land down there too. The taxpayers think those bike paths and trails are for them have another think coming!

        • David Zenger

          Sorry, Serge, you missed the green. Again.

      • Capt Wylie Davis

        No it wouldn’t David. It would attract more people, so…lets do what you and I agree on and move them NOW to better facilities with a ROOF and protection from the elements instead of the usual liberal garbage of letting them stay there. Don’t confuse empathy and caring with negligence. That’s how people died in San Diego. You and I agree they need help. Giving them more incentive to stay there is not the solution.
        If your want to help, and I feel confident you do, take one in to your home and care for them.

        • David Zenger

          Which would you prefer, feces in the street or in a portable toilet? Right now there is an encampment along the 91 between Lemon and Harbor. It’s been there for a year. And not a portable toilet in sight.

          When you say “move them” are you advocating that it be done by force?

          • Capt Wylie Davis

            I’ll get to your “force”comment in a minute.
            Your advocating putting toilets and probably showers, and what else, power supply? You see the more convenience they have, the more will come. It’s a simple equation. I’ve seen it. I served on the streets for decades. I worked amongst the homeless.
            Why are you advocating LEAVING the homeless to live like animals out in the open? Are you on the San Diego city council? The vast majority of these people are not “down on the their luck”. Scientific research has proven the majority of these people are suffering. Both from mental illness and/or substance abuse. A task force of the appropriate mental health professionals, substance abuse professionals, law enforcement, and homeless advocates can screen these people and the others wandering the streets who people like you don’t care about obviously for the help they need. Placement in shelters available all around orange county, substance abuse counseling that is already available and should be brought to them instead of them having to go get it. Either you accept the help or you get arrested because guess what David, the world is full of stupid people. You probably call them Nazi’s, Trump supporters, Republicans, White people, etc, etc. Still others call them libtards, democrats, snowflakes, social justice warriors, antifa, or just plain Dave. yada, yada, yada. We all agree they need help. It’s just in how you do it. But the thing these people suffer from is people like you. Let them live there, give them toilets, showers, electricity, and create a ghetto of homeless mentally ill people forced to live on the streets because why…….you don’t want to “force” them to do anything. We have a country of laws and when you don’t enforce the law, someone suffers. Like the 15 dead people in San Diego who died of Hep A because people like you. No, don’t give them toilets Dave, give them shelter and counseling and force them into a better situation. And if they don’t move, you arrest them for breaking the law. (Illegal camping). They would be better off. I know, I’ve been there. Read the interviews in the paper Dave, do your research. They themselves are telling the media that rapes are occurring down there, drug dealing, bicyclist are being robbed Dave. Some of the homeless create barriers to stop people then jump out and rob them. Probably hard for you to believe. It’s unfortunate, but I care way more than you obviously. This technique worked in New York City in the nineties when I lived there, and homeless people sleeping on street grates during the winter because of the rising steam were pick up and forced to sleep in shelters. and they were better for it. These people down there are sick people who need help. Help that they don’t want because they don’t know any better. Thats what mental illness does to you.
            I noticed you didn’t respond to letting them into your home though, did you?

          • David Zenger

            “… guess what David, the world is full of stupid people.”

            Trying to prove your own hypothesis?

          • justanon

            Capt. Davis, you lose credibility when you toss out a snide comment like “take one in to your home and care for them.” That is not a “solution”, it’s a cheap shot.

            This problem can’t be solved by individuals, it HAS to be solved by government and so far our local government, the Board of Supervisors has done very little.

            People who are advocating for portable toilets and showers are looking for immediate relief for the homeless, believe me, we all know it’s not a permanent solution, but it is the first, least thing that can be done.

            Your ‘solution’ of a permanent camp or smaller shelters/homes for the homeless takes $$$MONEY$$$ and finding a community willing to take them. I think the latter will be much harder to find than the former and it will be very, very hard to get the money.

            The BOS’s has let this problem grow and fester to the point of crisis.

            People living near the riverbed are fed up and rightly so, unfortunately they usually blame the homeless themselves rather than their government that has dropped the ball. Homelessness is a very complex and difficult problem and it isn’t helped by a misinformed public, who think that the homeless get lots of government help already and are just living large on the dole.

            If we are ever to get the money for a permanent solution, we need an informed electorate to pressure the BOS’s, but good luck with that. Most of the ‘solutions’ I see people posting (here, Nextdoor and OpEd’s) are neither humane or possible.

            If you want help to solve the issue of homelessness, you don’t start by attacking people who are at least thinking about it rationally and with some humanity.

          • LFOldTimer

            Coming from a compassionate soul who defends illegal immigrants who steal jobs from homeless citizens and inflate rent prices that keep our homeless on the streets in squalid conditions.

            Don’t make me puke with your self-righteous finger-pointing indignation.

          • justanon

            “illegal immigrants who steal jobs”

            Ha, ha, ha, do undocumented workers put a GUN to the heads of those patriotic americans who’ve hired them? I’d really like to know how those tricksy “illegals” FORCE poor, god-fearing, flag-loving, American patriots to hire them?

            Why don’t those patriotic americans go down to the river bed and hire the homeless mentally ill or the drug addicted to paint their homes or watch their children? No one is stopping them.

            You’re part of the problem, an ignorant, yet opinionated moron who thinks that the folks living in the riverbed are employable. Yeah, maybe some of them, someday, after rehab or a good psychotropic regimen, but right now, not so much.

            In the meantime, stop pretending that you care about the homeless, it’s obvious that you’re just using the issue to attack undocumented immigrants because you’re a bigot.

          • LFOldTimer

            Even though both parties in the transaction are criminals – the illegals commit the first two crimes by (1) unlawfully breaking into the country and (2) applying for jobs in the US when they know it’s a crime to work in America w/o being authorized to do so.

            If (1) and (2) didn’t happen – then (3) -the actual hiring- would never happen.

            Face it. You hate the homeless by supporting illegal immigrants who steal their jobs and raise rents that keep them homeless. You hate America by promoting unlawful behaviors that result in a cascade of unlawful acts committed on US soil by illegal foreigners – and you hate the American taxpayer who is forced to provide free services to those who illegally enter the nation – and you hate our citizen underclass since the resources that should be earmarked for them go to illegals.

            You are an inveterate hater who is anti-American and who gives priority to illegal foreigners over our own needy citizens.

          • justanon

            You FAILED to explain why patriotic americans don’t go down to the riverbed and hire folks rather than at the Home Depot parking lot?

            Why don’t farmers hit the local shelters for their field hands?

            The one doing the HIRING has ALL THE POWER, if they didn’t hire and pay undocumented workers they would not be able to survive here and would be forced to return home. You can’t admit that our economy has DEPENDED on these hard working people for decades.

            Undocumented workers are not the cause of homelessness, most of those people couldn’t hold down a job if it were given to them.

          • LFOldTimer

            Obviously since you promote illegal immigration you hate the homeless. You hate American values. You hate rule of law. You hate our citizen underclass. You hate the US taxpayer. You hate prospective immigrants who wait for years to come to American the LAWFUL way.

            Face it. You’re a hater.

          • justanon

            You’re … projecting.

            In the last few days you’ve insulted and denigrated all manner of hard working, tax-paying americans. Everyone’s lazy, greedy, undeserving, a joke or “illegal” (and yes undocumented workers pay taxes and into Social Security).
            You have no compassion for or understanding of the homeless, you don’t care what happens to them if they don’t “conform” to your narrow parameters.

            You need to look in the mirror old man to really see the face of a hater.

          • LFOldTimer

            Obviously since you promote illegal immigration you hate the homeless.You hate
            American values. You hate rule of law. You hate our citizen underclass.
            You hate the US taxpayer. You hate prospective immigrants who wait for
            years to come to American the LAWFUL way.

            Face it. You’re a hater. You hate, hate, hate. You hate the core values of America.

          • justanon

            Did you look in the mirror?

            No wonder your panties are in a twist. Are you also throwing the canned goods and kicking the dog? If so, stop it, stop it right now, haven’t you been hateful enough for one day?

          • LFOldTimer

            If you had a conscience you’d serve soup at a local homeless camp and
            apologize effusively for defending illegal migrants who steal their jobs
            and inflate the rents that keep them homeless.

            Shameful. Hate, hate, hate!

          • justanon

            If you had a brain you’d EXPLAIN how those “illegals” STEAL jobs. I’m still waiting for an explanation. So far, you’ve contended that their mere presence FORCES Americans to hire them, but how, do they use mind-control? I’d really love to know their secret.
            You could write a book:

            “How To FORCE People To Break The Law And Hire YOU”
            (Without Using A Gun!)

            It would be a best seller and just think, you could singlehandedly end unemployment forever. You really MUST SHARE their SECRET with the world!

            Back to the homeless, if you ‘think’ they are employable, do your patriotic duty, go down to the riverbed and hire one to clean or paint your home, but BEWARE those crafty “illegals” if you get too near one they might use their super-duper, mind control powers on you and suddenly there you’d be, eating freshly picked strawberries on you nice clean table in your newly painted kitchen!!!! Aaaggghhhh!!!!!! Nightmare alert for LFOldBigot, lol!

          • LFOldTimer

            By your logic it would be permissible some someone to enter a bank and remove a truckload of deposits because the bank manager left the front door and the vault open at night during non-banking hours.

            As usual, more stinking thinking from the cheap seats.

            When you know an act is ILLEGAL (as with breaking into the country, committing identity theft, applying for employment when you know it’s a violation of US and state labor laws, etc…) and you still participate in those acts it is a CRIME! Let that seep into your cranium.

            If illegals did not apply for jobs – no one would hire them. There is your fruit of the poisonous tree.

            If illegals did not break into the country there would be no illegals to apply for jobs, therefore no one to hire.

            If illegals did not steal an American’s identification and use it in the job application process – few employers would hire them.

            Since illegals use STOLEN ID – many employers believes the ILLEGALS are here LEGALLY when, in fact, they are committing identity theft which is a FELONY under California law.

            By taking jobs away from US citizens through ILLEGAL means they are STEALING those jobs.

            If you can’t understand that logic go back to 6th grade for remedial training.

            Now run down to the riverbank and apologize to the homeless people for defending illegal aliens who steal their jobs and inflate rent prices in OC which keep the homeless on the streets.

            You have to be the most anti-American hater of the homeless, hater of the citizen underclass and hater of the LEGAL migrant population that I have ever seen on a comment board.

          • LFOldTimer

            If you had a conscience you’d serve soup at a local homeless camp and apologize effusively for defending illegal migrants who steal their jobs and inflate the rents that keep them homeless.

            Shameful.

        • While we’re at it, let’s erect a fence around them once we get them where we want them. That way we can protect them from themselves and others who want to do them harm. After all, the government should keep everyone safe. Hey,mi know, we could call the new encampment Manzanar……..

    • verifiedsane

      The criminal, corrupt, and documented actions by Sheriff’s, DA, and BoS leadership in OC is not a crisis…it’s crime wave…all though being without stick home populations are an ongoing and growing problem…It is not by a long shot the most pressing issue we are currently confronting with an organized criminal mob running our law enforcement entities and governmental bodies.

      On the issue of the without home population. Being without stick housing is a growing problem and population that is
      not going away just by moving or driving this population from one
      encampment to another…and eventually back onto the streets and
      underbellies of our communities…every human being needs to sleep, eat,
      and defecate…this represents the most basic biology of our human
      condition..simply using the old eugenics mentality of calling every
      without stick home person either mentally ill or a drug addict shows the
      ignorance and group think mentality being employed by some police state
      vocal provocateurs in relation to this problem….Being without a stick
      home is a complex and multi faceted problem that encompasses economic
      and social ramifications far beyond what is being presented by these few
      “demonizing & stigmatizing” not in my city or river bed
      zealots..The drive them away pundits are always talking about
      fantastical options that don’t currently exist. That is not offering
      viable alternatives or solutions, it’s just vocally pandering to the
      masses against this mainly voiceless and powerless segment of today’s
      greater society. Why not, these are the easiest of targets to attack
      after all.

    • Steve Grasha

      They are living in the riverbeds so old cops can live in houses. 200 grand a year for a beat cop in Orange County is impossible to support. The homeless problem can be traced right back to you corrupt cops using union dues to influence elections to prop up an unsustainable government. You are to blame for this and these people are your unions true victims.

      • Capt Wylie Davis

        Beat cops do not make $200,000 a year stupid. Get your facts right. I’m sure in your mind you can trace it right back to anything your small mind wants to except the real causes. Think about it next time you riot at berkley to stop free speech, jack off.

        • Steve Grasha

          The deputy that was convicted of rape last month was a beat cop that earned more than 200 grand a year for the two years preceding his arrest.

          KEEP UP, the ball moves fast when we are retired.

          The department spokesman on homeless issues makes 300 grand a year. I don’t make things up.

          • Capt Wylie Davis

            I feel confident the only fast moving ball are the two across your chin, Alice.