Submitted by contributing author, Another Deputy’s Wife
From what I have read, it seems that many people believe a vote for Kevin Jensen is synonymous with a vote for more union power. I have belonged to a powerful union in the past and I was always very wary of the candidates my union supported and, in all honesty, voted the majority of times against their recommendations. In the case of Laurie Smith vs. Kevin Jensen, a vote for Kevin Jensen is a vote to restore integrity to the Sheriff’s office of Santa Clara County.
Many writers have brought to light many issues that the public needs to be aware of regarding the leadership of Sheriff Laurie Smith. One issue I have not seen discussed is law enforcement training. I am the wife of a deputy and my husband has attended many training classes that were required of him to work a specific new assignment. My husband has completed these classes through POST. The Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) has a course catalog that lists various trainings offered throughout the state of California. South Bay Regional is a local training agency that hosts trainings for law enforcement in Santa Clara County, yet you may be hard pressed to find a Deputy from Santa Clara County in one of their classes. Instead, my husband has traveled as far north as Sacramento and as far south as Los Angeles to receive training. A simple search in the course catalog proves that the exact classes he took away from home were offered within miles of our residence. When he has inquired as to why these classes were not available to him, he has been told that the Sheriff’s office does not use South Bay Regional. I strongly believe that Sheriff Laurie Smith owes it to her law enforcement personnel and Santa Clara County tax payers to explain the reasons behind this apparent boycott of South Bay Regional. She does serve on the POST commission whose purpose is to “establish standards, regulations, and to give direction to POST staff.” I find it quite concerning that a member of the POST commission refuses to work with a training agency in her own county.
The decision to send Sheriff’s office personnel to other training agencies has an impact on many stakeholders. First, tax payers should know that when a deputy attends a class out of the region they reside, the Sheriff’s office picks up the tab. Based on my husband’s experience, this has worked out to be close to $1000 per week for lodging and meals. If you multiply this by the many deputies who have received training outside of the region, you see that this is a gross misuse of county resources. In one scenario, my husband could have attended a class within minutes from our house, obviously not costing the Sheriff’s Office any expense in meals and lodging. Secondly, when you send a Deputy to training outside of the region, he or she misses out on opportunities to network with other law enforcement agencies in his or her region. These relationships with neighboring law enforcement departments are vital and if anyone should be supporting them, it should be the county Sheriff. Thirdly, from the heart of a wife, when my husband is gone, our family suffers. In an article written by the FBI, it is stated that, “Nationally, the divorce rate among police officers is shown to be as high as 70 percent in a society that has a divorce rate of around 50 percent.” If marriages of deputies are already at risk, why add more stress to the family by asking a spouse to travel away from home?
This issue of outsourcing training is one of the many reasons why Santa Clara County needs a change in leadership. It is not about union power and it is not about gender discrimination, it is about respecting the office of Sheriff enough to ensure that it is held by someone with integrity. Kevin Jensen is a man of integrity and we owe it the county to allow him to bring much needed change to the office of Sheriff.