By Samuel Strait – Reporter at Large – March 14, 2022
The recent charges brought against appointed Sheriff Randy Waltz, Del
Norte County’s current occupant of the County’s highest law enforcement
position is curious at best. When Sheriff Waltz was hired back in June
of 2020 in a newly created position of undersheriff, someone must have
asked for certain details about living arrangements as is customary for
nearly all government new hired employees. It wasn’t as though he would
be commuting from say Belgium, or even the Dominican Republic. Surely
an address must have been supplied for County records upon employment.
Even if he had previously been living in a recreational vehicle prior to
arriving in the County, there must have been some indication as to where
he would call home. Hopefully not in one of the County’s public parks
with the homeless.
Beyond the question of where Sheriff Waltz has been living since June of
2020, how is it that just now we are learning that either the Board of
Supervisors hired then Mr. Waltz as undersheriff on the recommendation
of previous Sheriff Apperson with no apparent vetting of the perspective
hire, or failed to do any kind of background check at all. Then to
compound that failing, in September of 2021, the Board elevated
Undersheriff Waltz to the position of Sheriff of the County without
knowing much about him, like where he lived, or any of the details of
his previous places of employment. It is small wonder that the
Sheriff’s department is the subject of an article from a “foreign”
newspaper, the Sacramento Bee, claiming all sorts of mischief has gone
on within the department for years. Makes one wonder just who on the
Board of Supervisors is minding the store? They are after all the ones
that should be taking the blame for any issues that arise from this
potential debacle. Supervisors Short, Hemmingsen and Howard, where were
you when the decision was made to appoint Waltz the Sheriff? Just
another near unanimous decision from a Board that doesn’t question much
of anything that is waved in front of their noses. Kind of like the
pattern that has developed for too long to consider it abnormal. Just
one more rubber stamp that went bad. Time for Chris Howard to take out
retirement papers and for Darren Short to resign, past time.
While it may not be fair to label the current state of the department
completely dysfunctional, as is alluded to in the Bee’s article, “No Law
North Of The Klamath”, it certainly gives locals dissatisfied with law
enforcement plenty of things to complain about. Before the entire
department gets tarred with the Bee’s all inclusive brush, it is
important to note that the department has six to twenty unfilled
vacancies depending on which interview of Sheriff Waltz you happened to
catch. Likely the higher number has something to do with the Measure
“R” money he and his department wish to retain. Frankly, it does not
appear to matter how many officers are hired by Del Norte County, under
Sheriff Apperson, they didn’t seem to hang around very long. What ever
the problem is reported to be, no one cares how large the department is,
as long as their performance is courteous and professional. In other
words, they do a credible job of carrying out their duties.
Most folks in the County probably do not care where Sheriff Waltz hangs
his proverbial hat as long as they feel he is doing the job properly.
Some do, and some don’t think he has made much in the way of substantive
changes as being in charge of adequately training his patrol officers.
The jury could likely be found to support that concern in some cases.
Most folks don’t have much need for a deputy, but feel should the need
arise, the Del Norte Sheriff’s Office will come as they are intended.
In a small rural County, with only twenty six patrol officers on the
force, a sheriff’s assistance may not come when one beckons. Just
because “you” think the sheriff’s department should be at your beck and
call, does not mean it will happen. Living in a small rural county
requires some measure of patience, a practice most deputy’s are familiar
with when dealing with the public Thank heavens that seems to be the
case for the officers in the department that I have come in contact with.
Should it be learned that Sheriff Waltz has been living in a
recreational vehicle in Luxembourg, the US Virgin Islands, or even near
by Oregon, he seems to have spent a great deal of time within the County
limits in his current occupation. In the spirit of “where’s Waldo?” let
the local DA figure out just what heinous “crime” our current appointed
Sheriff is guilty of…..That would appear to be the best course of
action should we find out he hasn’t really been living in Belgium…