By Roger Gitlin – EYE ON DEL NORTE – February 9, 2022
The official filing period for the June 2022 Primary begins next week. The Board of Supervisors appointed Sheriff Randy Waltz and he has declared his candidacy and will file papers to run. Sheriff Waltz is finishing up ex-Sheriff Erik Apperson’s second term.
The two remain very close and rather than dwell on Apperson’s legacy, I choose to focus on candidate Waltz’ vision.
Sheriff Waltz is a San Joaquin Valley product who owns a reputable career in Tulare and Fresno counties, both Sheriff ‘s Deputy and in District Attorney Investigator. Waltz was brought up to Del Norte by Apperson to fill the vacant undersheriff position. Presently, there are 12 vacancies with three deputies awaiting background check prior to final hire. Three Sergeants, five Deputies and one undersheriff remain unfilled at this time.
Sheriff Waltz is running, in his own words, “…to create a stabile environment focusing on locally-raised Del Norte-bred high school youth.” The long-standing practice of hiring recruits from the Eureka, Siskiyou and Sacramento academies will be de-emphasized as those graduates tend to gravitate to law enforcement agencies in and where academy graduates reside. Sheriff Waltz is exceedingly proud of the Department he inherited.
* I moved the discussion along to local issues and brought to the Sheriff’s attention many in the community were unhappy with what it perceived as a lack of attention to criminal behavior. One recent case involved a local process server who attempted to serve a Writ of Mandate on a member of the Measure A Oversite Committee. The process server was met on the approach to Committee member Jessica Curry who brandished a rife advising the Server to exit her property Sheriff Waltz was familiar with this Feb. 4 incident and was advised it is NOT a crime to greet someone at your door with a weapon on your side!
We live in an era where what was once normal, may now be socially (but not illegal) unacceptable. The other question comes to mind should a person like Ms. Curry be allowed to serve on the Oversite Committee? That question is not under the purview of the Sheriff’s Deoartment.
*I asked the Sheriff if law enforcement is under siege. Sheriff Waltz was a bit more cagy on his response. Though highly critical of abandonment of law enforcement in big cities like New York, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago and Portland, the Sheriff was emphatic when he said that could never happen in Del Norte County. Really? Social Media and egressable roads put our community within easy reach of those who would do us harm.
* Is the State of California at war with law enforcement? Sheriff Waltz acknowledged all of the legislation that has compromised law enforcement: AB109, prop 47, Prop. 57, movement toward NO BAIL have made his job more difficult….he then picked up his copy of the Constitution and declared,”… this is what I follow. I referred long-standing law enforcement challenges like Ruth’s Compound which remain off the radar screen for local law enforcement. The Sheriff politely disagreed with me when I questioned little or nothing was being done to address problems in this area the Sheriff related his lack of perceived progress in cleaning up this area centered around lack of full staff to those who live this lifestyle have Constitutional rights, too.
* I hoped to discuss the K-9 Program. The Del Norte K-9 Program has two canines.. Bruno is the Shepherd; Harley is the Springer Spaniel. When I asked if the canines were properly trained, Sheriff Waltz became a bit more defensive of the canines and the Program and insisted the canines were highly trained and capable of doing their jobs. At present, Bruno is becoming bonded with his new K-9 handler and should in the field in the next six-eight weeks.
I would be happy to observe an active demonstration of the Canines once both canines are ready for deployment.Without endorsement of Sheriff Waltz, if he is elected our next Sheriff, I would expect him to conduct extensive outreach to the community. This outreach should be conducted with our District Attorney to periodically meet with the community, especially disparate groups who feel law enforcement does not have their backs.
And if the Sheriff is elected, it is my hope he and EYE ON DEL NORTE can meet every few months to discuss community concerns including but certainly not limited on how the Sheriff can better serve Del Norte County