Sunday, July 02, 2017
Corrupt California Sheriff Announces Her Retirement
St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR needs to retire, like this turkey in Orange County California.
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announces plans to retire
By MARTIN WISCKOL | firstname.lastname@example.org | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: June 27, 2017 at 2:58 pm | UPDATED: June 28, 2017 at 7:41 am
With her department under federal investigation and the ACLU calling for her resignation, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announced Tuesday that she will step down at the end of her term next year rather than seek reelection.
Hutchens was appointed sheriff in 2008, in the wake of the conviction of predecessor Mike Carona on corruption charges. The first woman to hold the post, she was widely praised as a stabilizing force in the department. She easily won election in 2010 and won an uncontested reelection bid in 2014.
But troubles have been growing over the past two years, with both the state and federal justice departments launching investigations into alleged misuse of jailhouse informants by the Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s Offices. There was also criticism surrounding the escape of three inmates last year and then Tuesday, the ACLU issued a scathing report on the county jails, citing excessive violence and unhealthy living conditions while calling for Hutchens to resign.
Hutchens, 62, acknowledged inadequate deputy training contributed to possible procedural lapses with the informants, but has denied it was a systemic, premeditated abuse as some have alleged. The county grand jury last week issued a report supporting Hutchens’ position.
She is scheduled to testify next week in a special hearing to determine whether deputies destroyed or withheld informant-related evidence in the case of confessed Seal Beach killer Scott Dekraai. Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals said Hutchens needs to explain her department’s role in the misuse of jailhouse informants and the shredding of potential evidence.
Her political consultant, Dave Gilliard, said the criticisms and investigations played “no role whatsoever” in Hutchens’ decision to retire.
“She has 40 years in law enforcement under her belt, never planned to serve for more than 10 years as sheriff and has been planning an announcement for some time now,” Gilliard said.
Fred Smoller, a Chapman University political scientist, is among those who’ve changed their opinion of Hutchens since she first took office.
“Following Carona, she came in and was a real breath of fresh air,” he said. “Now with the snitch scandal, it’s time for her to go. The whole criminal justice system in Orange County is in disarray.”
Hutchens spent 32 years with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department before taking the Orange County post. She worked her way through the ranks from deputy to division chief of Homeland Security.
“Sheriff Hutchens has served Orange County with distinction and thanks to her leadership, the Sheriff’s Department is recognized as one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the country,” said state Senate GOP Leader Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, a longtime ally.
In an emailed statement announcing her plans, Hutchens endorsed county Undersheriff Don Barnes, 52, to succeed her. Barnes joined the department in 1989 and currently oversees daily operations of the department’s 24 division and its contracts to provide law enforcement to 16 Orange County cities. Barnes was appointed second in command to Hutchens last year, and is only the second homegrown deputy to rise internally to that rank within the last four decades.
“I am confident that Don Barnes will work tirelessly and effectively to keep the citizens of Orange County safe in their homes, neighborhoods, schools and places of business,” Hutchens said in her statement.
Aliso Viejo Mayor David Harrington, a retired 28-year veteran of the department, has also said he plans to run for the seat next year.
The 53-year-old has been critical of Hutchens’ record and said if elected he would conduct a “top-down, side-to-side review of everything” in the department. Harrington knocked the lack of oversight that he said allowed three inmates to escape from a county jail last year, spurring an eight-day, statewide manhunt for their recapture.
“That was a failure of leadership,” said Harrington, who retired with the rank of sergeant in 2013. “The fact of the matter is that the shortcomings (in the jail) were pointed out to the administration, but they ignored it.”
Staff writers Jordan Graham and Kelly Puente contributed to this report.