Candidates for Sheriff Hold Debate in Sun City

This evening, two of the candidates running for Sheriff of Riverside County met in Sun City to debate over the County's law enforcement ...

This evening, two of the candidates running for Sheriff of Riverside County met in Sun City to debate over the County's law enforcement issues.

The two candidates who attended were Robert Ritchie and Rick Sayre. The incumbent, Bob Doyle, was invited but did not appear. Refer to your voter guide for background information on the candidates.

Much of meeting centered around a question/answer session with questions coming from the audience. The two took turns answering, and were given the opportunity to rebut, though in most cases neither rebutted.

Opening Statements

Both candidates acknowledged the need to find alternative ways to boost the number of law enforcement personnel.

Ritchie expressed his desire to get kids more involved and more exposed to law enforcement, such as getting department personnel to operating programs in schools.

Sayre expressed his desire to take the department back to the fundamentals of responding to calls, investing into the front line personnel, and expanding jail space.

Question & Answer Session

It's worth noting here that in many of the questions, Sayer received the first opportunity to answer. Ritchie's responses often seemed to agree with Sayer, however, instead of reiterating what Sayer had to say, he instead expanded on it, providing examples and details.

Also note, answers I've reported below are summarized.

Question #1: How will you plan for resources in light of rapid growth of population?

Sayer pointed out that the Supervisors have historically been willing to provide adequate funding to the department, but that it's been mostly a matter of spending that money wisely, naming on the front line personnel, such as deputies and dispatchers.

Ritchie called for creating a cadet program where by teenagers could enroll immediately after graduating high school and take on duties that don't require the use of a deputy. He also talked about bringing retired deputies back to help new recruits.

Question #2: Will you continue the practice of allowing officers to put on a DEA patch to arrest people using medical marijuana?

Ritchie said he would not allow any deputy to wear a different patch.

Sayer said he too would not allow deputies to make such arrests and pointed out there are other agencies that should address it.

Question #3 (posed to Sayer only): How do you differentiate the medical marijuana law between federal and state?

Sayer said that it is a state issue superceding federal.

Question #4: What is your position on handling illegal aliens?

Sayer responded by saying that illegal immigration laws should be enforced and that he will not allow his deputies to let personal opinions or desires to get in the way.

Ritchie went on to say that he supports building a wall on the border, and that he has personally arrested illegal aliens shoplifting in area stores. He also said that any illegal alien who commits a crime should not only be arrested but deported under the full effect of state and federal law.

Question #5: How will you keep pedophiles away from schools?

Ritchie said he wants to push for a state law to impound the cars of registered sex offenders who violate the terms of their probation, noting that offenders usually use their cars to wisk children away.

Sayer took the opinion that our penal system should not even allow sex offenders out, and wants changes to keep them incarcerated for much longer periods, perhaps indefinitely.

Question #6: Will you create written policies on how to handle medical marijuana patients?

Ritchie said that there should definitely be written policies and procedures in place to avoid miscommunication on how such cases be handled.

Sayer reiterated the same opinion, but went on to add that if a physician has prescribed a course of treatment, assuming that treatment is within the law, it should be respected.

Question #7: What is the problem with enforcing trespassing laws?

Sayer said that trespassing is a misdemeanor and that in order for an officer to take action on a misdemeanor he or she must personally witness the act. He went on to recommend that citizens take some first-level course of action, such as posting "no trespassing signs", or setting up cameras, to provide deputies with evidence.

Ritchie elaborated by recommending citizens obtain restraining orders to give law enforcement an additional tool towards arresting and prosecuting trespassers.

Question #8: What is your opinion on operating a tent city?

Sayer expressed his support for running a tent city, but went on to say that the biggest offenders we face in our society today are the repeat "mid-level" offenders, such as the trespassers, the taggers, the hookers, vandals, etc. On the other hand, the murderers are always put away. There is not enough jail space to house the mid-level offenders and thus are set free. He said that at the current pace, Riverside County is about 8-10 years away from getting more jail space, and that jail space is the number one problem in Sheriff's department right now, with adequate radio equipment being number two.

Ritchie also supports the idea of a tent city and went on to provide more examples of county jails being overcrowded.

Question #9: Will you crack down on street corner vendors?

Sayer said that this a code enforcement issue and not a adequate use of deputy personnel. He said that we have a bigger problem of not having enough deputies answering calls.

Ritchie seemed to agree with Sayer, but went on to say that if street corner vendors are particular problem for a community, the community needs to organize itself and make it a perogative.

Question #10: What will you do for calls for crime?

Sayer spent time detailing his desire to take the department back to the fundamentals of focusing on answering calls. He said deputies are currently doing tasks that civilian workers can handle. By doing this it allows the department to put more deputies and dispatchers on the front lines.

Ritchie went on to elaborate on the problem of deputies not being able to find the location of calls. He pointed out the rapid growth of new communities and housing tracts, and not having adequates maps. He suggested deputies be outfitted with cell phones specifically for calling the callers and asking for driving directions. He said that having GPS devices would be a big help too.

Question #11: What about going after gangs, domestic terrorists, and bad cops?

Sayer focused on the need for increasing the education of Sheriff's personnel, particularly in the area of understanding the communities they service. He stressed helping personnel achieve their own personal goals to prevent them from going bad, and to give them the tools they need to do their jobs.

Ritchie elaborated on his desire to get more kids involved and exposed to law enforcement as a key towards preventing them from getting into gangs. He also suggested that all department personnel be polygraphed on a regular basis to discourage them from illegal activity.

Question #12: How will you make the department more competitive with other law enforcement agencies towards luring the best talent?

Ritchie explained that deputies are having to contribute into their own retirement plans, and that by eliminating these paycheck deductions it would go a long ways to keeping and luring good officers.

Sayer seemed to reiterate the point about offering competitive retirement plans, but also went on to say that officers are more attracted to work places that help them achieve their career goals.

Closing Statements

Ritchie went first mostly by reiterating his desire to get kids involved and exposed to law enforcement. He reiterated his background as a police officer and city councilman. He also made the remark that deputies should hand out quality surveys to the people they answer calls to.

Sayer continued to stress his desire to bring the department back to the fundamentals of answering calls, answering them quickly, and investing resources into the front line personnel. He again questioned why deputies were handling tasks that could be handled by civilian personnel, or even volunteers.


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