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Fired deputy battles Sacramento County sheriff

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Posted: Monday, February 18, 2002 10:00 pm

The Sacramento County sheriff's race is a rematch of the campaign of four years ago with Sheriff Lou Blanas being challenged by Bret Daniels.

Blanas, 55, won the 1998 campaign comfortably, but this year's contest features two major changes:

. Blanas was undersheriff - the second-ranking position in the department - when he ran in 1998. This year, he is an incumbent running on his record.

Lou Blanas
Lou Blanas

. Daniels, 41, became a Sacramento County sheriff's deputy in 1998. In 2000, he was fired from the department for allegedly using his police powers to look up an old friend in Arizona. He is now a scheduling manager for a security company and a Citrus Heights city councilman.

Daniels labels his dismissal a politically motivated move by Blanas, but he said he's basing his candidacy on the issues.

"The last thing this is is a vindictive effort to get back at Mr. Blanas," Daniels said. "I'm not trying to slap him around."

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department patrols unincorporated areas surrounding Galt, and operates the county jail, courthouse and Sacramento International Airport.

Blanas' career began in 1968 with the Sacramento Police Department, where he served in the patrol, detective and narcotics divisions.

In July 1981, Blanas became chief of the California State Fair Police and supervising lottery agent with the California State Lottery in 1985. He joined the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department in 1987 and was promoted to undersheriff in 1993.

Daniels has been a police officer for about 20 years. He was with the sheriff's department from 1988 until he was fired in 2000. Previously, he was an Air Force law enforcement specialist in Spain and Wyoming, and a deputy sheriff in Cheyenne, Wyo.

Bret Daniels
Bret Daniels

Daniels accuses Blanas of running a department that is top-heavy in management with not enough deputies patrolling the streets. Daniels also criticized Blanas' management of the 911 communications center, saying that emergency calls should be answered within 10 seconds. Daniels said he once called 911 without an answer for about 90 seconds.

Blanas replied that 73 percent of the 911 calls were answered in 10 seconds or less, and that another 20 percent of emergency calls were answered within 30 seconds.

Daniels pledged to transfer 25 deputies to the communications center so that 911 calls can be answered within three seconds.

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