Special to The Village News
Questions were emailed to each of the Sheriff candidates. Only two responded by Friday, May 13. In the following stories, you will have an introduction to each candidate for San Diego County Sheriff. Those candidates who responded to our questions will have more space.
John Hemmerling is running for top Sheriff and was the first to respond to our questions. He lives in the City of San Diego, and for the last 32 years he's lived in Santee, and while in the Marine Corps, he was stationed at Camp Pendleton. He is a retired USMC Reserve Colonel and a combat veteran of the Gulf and Iraq wars.
"My career spans 28 year for dedicated service to the City of San Diego, and 30 years of faithful military service. For six years I've been the City Attorney's Chief Criminal Prosecutor, prosecuting more than 18,000 misdemeanor criminal cases a year. Before that, I served as principal legal advisor to two San Diego Police Chiefs... . I was a decorated San Diego Police Officer for more than nine years ...," Hemerling said.
"I will bring real change and strong leadership as your new Sheriff. The status quo is not good enough. I will set a higher standard," Hemmerling said.
Hemmerling is endorsed by the Republican parties of California and San Diego County, former Mayor Kevin Faulconer, retired Police Chief Kelly Zimmerman, Councilmember Chris Cate, Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, Santee Mayor John Minto, the San Diego Deputy City Attorneys Association, and the San Diego Asian Americans for equality.
"According to the most recent SANDAG reports, violent crimes, including property crimes, have risen to heights that we haven't seen in many years," Hemmerling said. " ... I will ensure all communities, including Fallbrook, Bonsall and other rural unincorporated areas, have full access to professional law enforcement, including traffic services and homeless enforcement."
Saying he's the only candidate with leadership in the entire spectrum of criminal justice, from arrest to prosecution, he strongly supports Proposition 47, which more than doubles the stolen goods threshold under which people can be charged for felony theft, from $450 to $950.
"I will prioritize violent crime, including drug trafficking. As sheriff, I will partner with every local agency, and state and federal partners, to root out the violent crimnals who terrorize our neighborhoods," Hemmerling implored.
As a USMC Battalion Commander in Iraq, he commanded four prison compounds. "Without incident ... providing comprehensive medical screenings for thousands of detainees."
"I will correct all the auditor's deficiencies. Our jails will perform comprehensive intake evaluations, medical and mental health treatment, frequent safety checks, and closer supervisions of inmates with a higher risk of death due to mental illness or drug overdose. I have seen the mental health crisis and drug problems explode over the last decade – I know what it takes to come up with effective solutions. Leadership matters," Hemmerling said.
It's been reported that police officer morale is at a record low. The ranks are hurting. How will Hemmerling build that morale and get the "Can-Do" spirit back without officers being contrary towards citizens?
"Morale in the San Diego Sheriff's Department is low, which affects recruitment, retention and performance," he said. "When I am Sheriff, I will provide proven and tested leadership. My ultimate goal will be protecting people's lives."
"Deputies should reflect the communities they serve. I will recruit the best, actively reaching out, and encourage applicants from every community. ... Every deputy will be trained on implicit bias, diversity, inclusion, de-escalation, and handling mental health crises," Hemmerling explained.
"Effective recruitment, improved morale and great diversity will come when there is a renewed sense of pride in being a deputy. Community pride will follow when our priorities for public safety, caring about victims, access to information and transparency are aligned.
"As Sheriff, I will be accessible and accountable. Also will work with the deputy Sheriffs Association to improve working conditions, raise pay, enhance benefits, expand advancement opportunities and institute sound, constructive changes to prevent stagnation and to improve morale," Hemmerling concluded.
For more information, visit https://www.johnhemmerlingforsheriff.com/priorities.