Restoring Public Trust in the Riverside Sheriff’s Department
Recent revelations of a promotional testing scandal has further shaken public trust in our Sheriff’s Department. Beyond the scandal itself exist allegations of a cover-up and the eventual promotion of involved deputies with close ties to the Sniff administration. Even potentially more distributing is evidence of an ongoing culture of intimidation intended to keep the facts from reaching the public.
In order to restore public trust in our Sheriff’s Department, swift action must be taken. Accordingly, I am calling upon our region’s respected county, prosecutorial, and civilian oversight leaders to begin the process of restoring trust in our Sheriff’s Department through full transparency and accountability. I believe the following steps should be taken immediately:
The County Counsel should reaffirm the protections that deputies and other county employees have when they report wrongdoing in a manner consistent with their oath and conscience. Officials should establish a procedure which allows individuals with firsthand knowledge of any wrongdoing in the Sheriff’s Department to come forward in a confidential manner. These individuals should not fear for their careers when reporting incidents that violate the integrity of their profession and the public trust.
The Riverside County District Attorney should launch an inquiry into the impact that this scandal has had or will have on past, present, or future prosecutions or convictions of criminals in Riverside County.
The Riverside County Civil Grand Jury should incorporate this entire scandal under their purview and launch an investigation into the following:
the scope and outcome of the Sheriff's Department's own investigation;
the propriety of promoting those who were implicated;
the apparent lack of accountability for individuals involved;
whether close associations with the Sheriff’s administration influenced decisions and outcomes;
whether the Sheriff’s handling of the matter compromises past, present or future criminal cases.
This investigation should also provide a safe place for individuals with knowledge of misconduct at the Sheriff’s Department to come forward.
I have a long track record of fair and equitable executive leadership that sets clear standards and expectations and rewards excellence. However, I’ve also dealt swiftly and effectively with allegations of wrongdoing. There is simply no room for wavering as a chief executive, especially when the public trust hangs in the balance. Sheriff Sniff owes the citizens a thorough explanation of this scandal while protecting the privacy of the employees and the integrity of the investigation.