The Orange County Board of Supervisors will likely decide on the appointment of a new Sheriff for Orange County on Tuesday. They will chose between the current Chief of the City of Santa Ana Police Department, Paul Walters and retired Division Chief for the Office of Homeland Security of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Sandra Hutchens.
Hutchens brings 29 years of experience with the largest sheriff’s department in the nation while Walters brings over 37 years of varied and specialized police experience including 26 years of positions in command and leadership.
Both candidates are experienced law enforcement leaders. But there are some things that may help guide the Board in their decision making process.
Paul Walters, as the Chief of the Santa Ana Police Department since 1988 has the experience as leader of a large police department. As Chief, Walters oversees a department of 700 employees serving the largest city in Orange County. With that 20 years of experience also comes the burden of the record of that department and the crime statistics for the City of Santa Ana.Ã‚Â Santa Ana has the highest violent crime rate (58.18 per 10,000 residents in 2006) of any city in Orange County. In comparison, the violent crime rate for the City of Anaheim was 45.52 in 2006.Ã‚Â The national violent crime rate is 47.35.
Hutchens’ experience spans jail operations, patrol, investigations and administrative assignments within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department as deputy, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, commander and eventually chief supervising over 1000 employees. Hutchens also brings to the table 6 years experience in the LA County jail system.
This decision also has all of the political ramifications of a regular election but with the unique factor that there are only 5 voters, the members of the Board of Supervisors.Ã‚Â The Lincoln Club and the Orange County Chiefs’ and Sheriff’s Association have weighed in in support of Walters, but the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriff’s, who backed Bill Hunt for the Sheriff’s job, has been remarkably silent on the matter.
On the Board we have Chairman John Moorlach on the side of Hutchens and Fourth District Supervisor Chris Norby backing Walters. The other three members picked both Hutchens and Walters in the initial voting. As I wrote earlier this week, Hutchens support was rumored to be on the rise Friday. That was before the Lincoln Club made their point of view known. Given that the current Board has acted like an arm of the Lincoln Club for the past year, it will be interesting to see if there are a minimum of three members willing to buck their position on the matter and select Hutchens.
So LiberalOC readers… What do you think? Hutchens or Walters? Ã‚Â