Steve Moore summarizes his career with the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office with an elder abuse case he investigated in 1992. A woman was being charged exorbitant prices by the handyman in her trailer park. Moore's investigation found the handyman was a former convict who talked the woman into writing large checks for his small jobs.
Moore, now 50, arrested the handyman and asked the district attorney's office to file charges.
"Several days later I found out the case was not going to be filed," Moore said Wednesday, outside a coffee in downtown Stockton. "They were going to drop the charges. It was wrong."
The deputy who had previously been a lieutenant and would go on to become assistant sheriff personally went to a prosecutor who finally agreed to file the case.
Two days later, the handyman pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to three years in prison.
It is this type of work ethic and character he hopes will convince voters to back him for county sheriff next November.
"My tenure, education and rapport with county government give me (an edge in the race)," he said.
Supervisor Jack Sieglock, who has endorsed Moore, said the candidate is "hands-down" the most qualified for the job.
"He is technically sound, he knows how to manage and he knows how to work the streets," Sieglock said. "I have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with him for seven years and he doesn't let me down."
Experience from being "first"
The assistant sheriff made his career choice early. When he was a 16-year-old boy living in Oxnard, he entered the local police department's explorer scout program. That led to him becoming a police trainee, then a cadet.
Sheriff's candidates:• Assistant Sheriff Steve Moore
• Retired California Highway Patrol Chief Dennis Lobenberg
• Sheriff's Capt. John Huber Jr.
• Former district attorney's investigator Elbert Holman Jr.
• Sheriff's Capt. Rick Sealy
After graduating from Fresno State University with a degree in criminology, and from the FBI academy program, the Oxnard Police Department hired him as a full-time officer at the age of 23 in 1978.
Moore's wife, Robyn, a Linden native whom he had met while at Fresno State, could not take the heat of Southern California, so the couple moved back to her home county in 1982 and Moore started as a deputy with the sheriff's office.
Because of his previous experience on a patrol beat with Oxnard police, Moore became the first San Joaquin sheriff's officer to be promoted to sergeant and then to lieutenant without ever being first assigned to the department's patrol division.
But in 1992 and 1993, when the department went through a budget crisis, he was demoted back to deputy. Two years later, after finally being assigned to patrol, he was again promoted to lieutenant, and spent two years as a District 4 liaison between the department and the public.
"I was there to listen to the concerns of the citizens and then to find solutions for them," he said. "I got a lot of gratification from that."
Moore was promoted to captain in 2002 and oversaw the investigation and patrol divisions. Two years ago, he was again promoted, this time to assistant sheriff, the second highest possible rank in the department.
"I'm responsible for investigations, patrol, coroner, public administration and Lathrop Police Services (which is run by the sheriff's department)," he said. "I have also worked closely with government through the budget process the last two years. We have come in under budget two years in a row."
Stability, expansion are top priorities
Moore said his top priority as sheriff would be to give the department stable leadership.
"We have been beat up over the sins of the former sheriff," he said. "The citizens need to know the core of the sheriff's office is good hardworking men and women."
He said he was a casual friend and colleague to former Sheriff Baxter Dunn - who was kicked out of office and sent to prison for embezzlement - but not a close friend.
"I was not a person who had dinner with him regularly" he said. "I haven't spoken to him since he left."
He said Dunn's criminal conviction was the first time in his 26-year career where he "felt ashamed to be a cop."
"I can guarantee you that will not happen in my administration," he said. "Scrutiny is a good thing. It keeps an organization on its toes."
Another priority for Moore is expanding the patrol division, which was a goal for the department prior to the budget crisis of 1992-'93. He said the department needs upwards of 160, is allocated 114, but has only 96.
"We need to get back to that," he said. "I would work with the Board of Supervisors to get those positions."
That is an issue because smaller communities such as Linen and Mountain House do not get as much coverage as they need.
Other issue Moore said he would deal with would be to increase the number of beds at the county jail, and add investigator in the county Narcotics Task Force.
"That's our only real weapon against meth in this county," he said.
That philosophy has given Moore the endorsement of Sieglock and others in the community.
"This county needs a good administrator and who is respected by his peers," said Bruce Dodge, a retired Stockton police officer whom Moore knows from their work at the Stockton Lions Club.
"I have always known him to be upfront, sincere and hardworking," Dodge said. "He would do a great job for the county."
First published: Friday, March 10, 2006
This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. March 13, 2006, to correct Dennis Lobenberg's former job title.