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Incumbent and challenger: The race for San Joaquin County sheriff

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Posted: Saturday, June 5, 2010 12:00 am

Incumbent Steve Moore faces challenger Robert Moreno in the race for San Joaquin County sheriff on Tuesday.

Following are responses to questions posed to Moore and Moreno by the News-Sentinel.

What innovative or creative approaches can be taken to maintain sheriff's services during tough financial times?

Steve Moore

There needs to be a constant focus on maintaining the budget that is finally adopted. Properly managed, the office should be able to provide virtually the level of service we have built up to at this point. We need to be dynamic through the utilization of crime analysis to identify crime trends and areas where there is a spike in activity so that available manpower or other resources can be adjusted to respond to what is happening in the community as rapidly as possible to keep control of our neighborhoods.

As for the 2010/2011 fiscal year, we will be able to maintain the current staff assigned to our Community Car Program to each of the participating communities. Through our community cars we must continue to build upon the relationships with the community members, as we will never know the area as well as the residents. The development of trust with the deputies assigned to the community will allow staff to be proactive and more able to coordinate other county or state services available to address community concerns.

The increased use of our volunteer programs S.T.A.R.S., Reserve Deputies, and Explorers will also help preserve our presence in our communities at minimal to no cost. Utilizing S.T.A.R.S. and Explorer volunteers as additional eyes and ears to monitor activities in and around our schools, or at various community activities along with reserve deputies as an augment to our patrol division will greatly enhance our presence in our communities while keeping experienced deputies available to handle higher priority calls for service as quickly as possible.

Robert Moreno

We have a huge fiscal problem that has taken years of fiscal irresponsibility to come to fruition. I've always lived by the credo that uncommon problems call for uncommon solutions, especially if they are to be solved expeditiously. In that vein, the Sheriff has said that he has secured $80 million of a $116 million jail that we don't need nor can we afford at this time. If a hurricane destroyed half of our county tomorrow, I guarantee that the governor would declare an emergency, remove public funds earmarked for other projects — like our jail — and send it to us to aid with our problem. I would tell the governor that we are in a state of emergency. That more than 68 employees of the Sheriff's Office have received layoff notices. That a Sacramento County judge has already declared that because there are more criminals on the streets and less law enforcement, both the law enforcement and public are being placed into tremendous danger. That is unacceptable when we have $80 million dollars in a bank somewhere and our entire county budget deficit is $57 million dollars. I would seek converting those funds to better public service.

In light of the Paradiso shooting, what steps have been — or should be — taken to increase courthouse security?

Steve Moore

As a result of the Stockton Courthouse incident of March 4, 2009, the Sheriff's Office conducted a review of its internal operations. This review started immediately after the incident and is ongoing. The changes were looked at in terms of things we could do immediately, intermediate and long-term.

A liaison between the Jail Classification Unit, District Attorney Investigators, and the court security staff was established. They have daily contact and communication on any incidents within the Custody Division regarding safety and security.

We have purchased a Body Orifice Security Scanner (BOSS) chair for the courthouse; this unit allows for a non-intrusive search, which detects the presence of metal on an individual's body. It was delivered in July 2009, and use was implemented in August.

Trained canines conduct regular contraband searches, both in the jail and the courthouse.

A new courthouse is in the planning/design stage. Staff is actively involved to alleviate potential security problems in the new building.

These are just a few of the present and future changes that I can share at the present time based on maintaining the integrity of the security measures taken.

I understand people want a simple answer about why this happened and who is to blame. The honest truth is that this is a complex incident, with the possibilities of a combination of failures. A thorough investigation was launched to evaluate the facts and the investigation has been forwarded to the District Attorney for review. If specific failures are identified, those will be handled with the appropriate actions. It is clear that the defendant through his actions was the main actor in the courthouse incident.

Robert Moreno

We are all still waiting for the Sheriff to enumerate what steps have been taken.

This is what should be occurring:

1. Each cell in the courthouse should be thoroughly searched every morning.

2. The vehicles transporting the prisoners should be thoroughly searched each morning before they are used.

3. Each prisoner should be thoroughly searched before going to court.

4. Each prisoner should be thoroughly searched again whenever they return from a courtroom back to a courthouse cell.

5. Whenever information is received relative to the pernicious status of a prisoner involved in court proceedings, whether it be of personality changes or mental concerns, suicidal ideations, threats, or any other information that could impact the safety of the courthouse, that information MUST be relayed to the presiding judge, the judge handling the case, and bailiffs.

6. When moving a prisoner across or through a hallway, the public needs to be moved appreciably from the area in order to protect them and the prisoner.

7. Everyone must be stopped and inventoried. Those flashing badges must stop and allow their credentials to be verified.

8. Bailiffs could patrol grounds.

So much more. Bottom line: Had Paradiso been searched thoroughly, no assault would have taken place.

What are the pros and cons of the Community Car program?

Steve Moore


  • Staff consistently assigned to each community.
  • Smaller geographic area of patrol boundaries based on analysis of the calls for service.
  • Quicker response times to calls for service.
  • Greater interaction builds trusted relationships with community members.
  • Flexibility in scheduling work hours to meet community activities or targeted enforcement needs.
  • Increased attendance at community meetings, i.e. Chambers of Commerce, Municipal Area Council, School Board and Parent Association meetings.
  • Ability to coordinate other county and/or state service providers to combat community concerns or programs, i.e. code enforcement, juvenile problems, traffic, human services, etc.
  • Closer coordination with deputies assigned to school resource and community liaison duties.
  • Great community support for and participation in the program.


  • Does not provide a police presence in parts of the county where there is minimal calls for service; therefore the standard beat car must still be assigned.
  • Additional vehicle/equipment needs, as there are more individual cars assigned during the same or overlapping shift times.
  • Coordination of community policing activities requires specific management and supervisory assignments.

Robert Moreno

I liken it to Andy Griffith. Worked correctly, it allows a deputy and a small but populous segment of our county to become much more intimate with each other. The community sees the same deputy every day, and the deputy is encouraged to meet and greet everyone. Many members of the community will come to respect the deputy and see him as a friend, and visa-versa. That makes for healthy relationships that benefit the entire law enforcement community. Deputies also come to know all the bad guys and, upon hearing a description, many times will know exactly who the culprit is.

It can also drain patrol staffing. Community cars don't handle cold calls outside of their small area, yet they are considered part of the minimum staffing for the day. What that means is that another car is patrolling a much larger rural area — Thornton to Clements, for example — taking more calls while being pressed for response time. Back up for those outlying cars can also be a problem. Community cars can be too far away to be of any impact, so outlying cars sometimes have to rely on each other, and there aren't as many.

Over the next 10 years, what are the greatest challenges facing the sheriff's department and why?

Steve Moore

The economic health of the county. Will the county be able to stabilize its revenue stream and control over budgeted expenditures in other departments to minimize impacts to public safety departments. As the Sheriff's Office is funded mostly by general fund dollars, we will be asked to make additional reductions as the general fund is the only discretionary funds the Board of Supervisors has available to balance the county budget.

The proposed cost-cutting measures to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, such as the use of non-revocable parole. Any new crimes they commit will be only fresh charges and require them to be held in the county jail instead of being returned to state prison. Additionally, the release of non-violent, non-serious, and non-sex offender prisoners convicted with sentences of three years or less to serve their felony sentences in local county jails will push these offenders back to the county level.

Even with the current lower inmate count at the jail, these actions will quickly fill the available beds and we shall again be forced by the court ordered population cap to release prisoners early, both pretrial and sentenced, thus pushing up the crime rate and requiring more jail bed space.

Robert Moreno

Doing more with less. With ever-decreasing budgets for staff and resources, the Sheriff's Office needs to learn how to spend public-provided funds more astutely and frugally, or it will continue to find itself in fiscal dilemmas. Decisions to build expensive jail additions need to be done with careful consideration, not by spending $250,000 on a consultant over a three-month period in order to educate the public. Managers with close to 30 years of service and soon to retire need not be sent to a three-month FBI school because the costs outweigh the benefits for the public.

Because healthy budgets coupled with better-than-average staffing are becoming difficult, perhaps in 10 years impossible to attain, deputies will have to be trained and trusted to do more. This is in opposition to their accustomed reliance on support staff and supervisors, who do some of their work or counsel them on some of their decisions. Patrolmen may have to fingerprint and photograph their own crime scenes. Supervisors may have to be entrusted with budget tasks. The hierarchy may need to be flattened with fewer assistant sheriff's and managers.

Fiduciary restraint will be a great challenge.

About the candidates

Steve Moore

— 54 years of age.

— San Joaquin County Sheriff — Coroner — Public Administrator.

— Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology Law Enforcement from California State University, Fresno, and a single-subject teaching credential. He is also a graduate of the 185th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He also recently completed the Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar, 64th session Quantico.

— Married for 29 years to wife, Robyn Giannechini Moore. His daughter, Stephanie, is in the Masters Program at St. Mary's College in Moraga, and his son, Gregory, is attending San Joaquin Delta College.

Robert Moreno

— 52 years of age.

— Retired in 2009 as administrative lieutenant in the Sheriff's Office.

— Bachelor's degree, Pacific Western University; associate's degree, San Joaquin Delta College.

— Married for 20 years to wife, Jan, with whom he has two children, Bobby, 19, a student at Delta College, and Jaclyn, 16, a student at Jim Elliot Christian High School in Lodi.

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