I asked Supervisor Nguyen to comment on the appointment of Sandra Hutchens as Orange County Sheriff. I finally heard back from her, so here is what she said.
This was one of the most difficult decisions that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve made since being in office.Ã‚Â Both Chief Paul Walters and Chief Sandra Hutchens are highly qualified for the position.Ã‚Â However, in Chief Hutchens, we have a uniquely qualified individual who, from being out of the County, can give our department a fresh eye in dealing with the issues that we have, yet she lives in Orange County, so she is familiar with law enforcements needs and the public perceptions of law enforcement, and the OCSD in particular, in Orange County.
As someone who has risen through the many functions in a county sheriff’s department including having worked as a jailer for many years, Chief Hutchens is intimately familiar with the workings of and demands on such a department.Ã‚Â The county jail system and the operation of such a system is different from the way a city jail is run, so we need someone who is familiar in running a county system.Ã‚Â
Since the county sheriff’s department serves more of a regional law enforcement function, it is important that we have someone who is familiar in that role, especially in the context of Homeland Security and the need for multi-agency coordination in a post 9/11 world.
As someone who has extensive experience representing the Deputies and as part of a Command Team, Chief Hutchens is well equipped to lead the OCSD. In addition, with 29 years of experience in dealing with contracted cities where at one point she oversaw 40 contracted cities, Chief Hutchens has the requisite experience to serve her different constituencies in South County.
I believe that Sandra Hutchens will prove to be a stellar Sheriff.Ã‚Â The decision has been made; we, as a county, can move forward much more effectively if we focus on the work that needs to get done and assist Sheriff Hutchens in any way we can.Ã‚Â
I spoke with Supervisor Nguyen after I got her email response. I asked her about the claims that the “establishment” pressure was behind Hutchens and who she was lobbied more heavily for? “Walters, hands down,” she responded. “My phone was ringing off the hook all weekend, on Monday, and as early as 6 AM on Tuesday. Most of the calls and emails were in support of Chief Walters. The nastiest part was when the rumors started flying alleging that Chief Hutchens had promised former OCSD Lieutenant Bill Hunt his job back.Ã¢â‚¬Â Supervisor Nguyen added, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I spoke with Chief Hutchens and she made it clear that no such promises had been made or even suggested.Ã¢â‚¬Â
For Nguyen the most disappointing aspect of the fallout from HutchensÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ selection is the suggestion that Chief Hutchens was chosen because she is a woman. Ã¢â‚¬Å“That is outrageous,Ã¢â‚¬Â Nguyen said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“My choice of Hutchens was based upon her 29 years of experience in the Los Angeles County SheriffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Department. It was her experience working with contract cities, running a County jail, as well as her experience in Homeland Security at the LASD that motivated my support.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Supervisor Nguyen added; Ã¢â‚¬Å“Both candidates were well qualified for the job But HutchensÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ brings with her the fresh eyes, perspective, and independence of an outsider to the job of Sheriff.Ã¢â‚¬Â