Valley News -

Sheriff prepares for November runoff against a department lieutenant


Last updated 6/6/2018 at 8:30am

Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff will battle to keep his job in a November runoff election against sheriff's Lt. Chad Bianco.

Sniff was appointed in October 2007 to finish out the term of then-Sheriff Bob Doyle, who left the county for a state position. Since then, Sniff has been elected to two full terms.

In 2014, he successfully fended off a challenge from Bianco, of Riverside, who launched another challenge in Tuesday's election, along with former Hemet Police Chief Dave Brown and sheriff's Deputy Miguel Garcia of Beaumont.

Sniff and Bianco easily outpaced Brown and Garcia to reach the November runoff.

Bianco, who was endorsed by the Riverside Sheriffs' Association -- representing all the line deputies under Sniff's command -- has echoed concerns he advanced during the 2014 race that the department has been poorly managed, and the sheriff is out of touch with the community's needs.

"I'll start (my term in office) by repairing the relationship between the sheriff and our deputies and will work to bring the entire public safety community in Riverside County together to make our county a safe place to live and work once again,'' Bianco said in campaign literature. "Under my leadership, the sheriff's department will be focused on community-oriented policing and a proactive approach to crime reduction.''

Bianco highlighted his opposition to Senate Bill 54, the so-called

"Sanctuary State'' legislation that largely prohibits local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal authorities in enforcing immigration law. The candidate, a self-identified Second Amendment stalwart, also said he

would put an emphasis on expediting the process of issuing concealed firearms licenses.

Sniff has been criticized for failing to address a months-long backlog of applications for concealed carry permits. He recently announced that funds from a sub account would be used to trim the backlog.

The incumbent was endorsed by the advocacy group Gun Owners of California for his pro-Second Amendment positions.

Sniff shied away from confrontation in the campaign, choosing instead to run on his record. He has not appeared before the Board of Supervisors during several contentious budget hearings, including one in February during

which retiring Supervisor John Tavaglione, who endorsed Brown, chided the sheriff for behaving "like a child'' because of his attitude toward the county's $40 million contract with Netherlands-based professional services firm KPMG.

The company is heading a data-driven revamp of public safety and general government operations to make them run more efficiently. Critics, the sheriff among them, have denounced the work as a waste of time and money.

However, Supervisor Marion Ashley asserted earlier this week that KPMG's efforts have netted more than $90 million in long-term savings.

A growing concern for the county is the lack of deputies in unincorporated communities, where only two patrol deputies might be available at a given time for a space covering several hundred square miles. Sniff has repeatedly complained to the board that he's hamstrung by escalating costs associated with union contracts, inter-agency services and the new John J. Benoit Detention Center in Indio, leaving few resources to fund more deputies

in the unincorporated areas.

Sniff is also quick to note that, despite his challengers' grievances against him, the county's overall crime rate has dropped on his watch, falling almost 9 percent last year.

On his website, the sheriff spotlights his "four decades of law enforcement experience,'' as well as more than three decades as a U.S. Army reservist, contrasting his experience level with his challengers.


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