Lieutenant Chad Bianco, currently serving at the Larry Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, is running to unseat his boss, Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff.
“Stan is dishonest and has a long history of unethical acts that disgrace the badge that I hold dear,” Bianco said. ”He is nothing as a figurehead and arguably the worst sheriff in our history.”
Bianco accuses Sniff of having dismantled community policing, what he calls the most effective tool to stop the spread of crime and believes Sniff’s administration has been disingenuous in its claim that crime has fallen under his watch. “Community policing all went away when he took over,” Bianco said. “Now, it’s just random assignments when you show up for work.”
He alleged Sniff is a failed administrator and has deliberately chosen not to address the root causes of crime in the county, ignoring obvious solutions such as Bianco’s recommendation for adding 350 deputies to patrol duty, raising the number of deputies in the field and making community policing the linchpin of departmental policy.
“Community policing reduces incidents of crime and makes it harder to happen,” Bianco said. “It eliminates the environments [that spawn] crime and stops it where it starts. It’s an entire philosophy to which the department should be committed. The recidivism rate of released inmates committing more crimes is ridiculous.”
Sniff stated in the past that he supports community policing and that it had been department policy both before and during the early part of his tenure. Sniff pointed out that the recession and Board of Supervisor budget mandates in 2007 required staff reduction, leaving the department and sheriff’s stations unable to field deputies in extended community patrol assignments.
“I fought against down staffing,” Sniff said, “but with the budget given me by the board, I had no choice. Rather than terminate serving deputies, I chose to reduce staffing through attrition, which made maintaining the community policing program in the unincorporated areas untenable.” With current Board of Supervisors approval for additional hiring, Sniff has begun the multi-year process of bringing staffing level back to 2007 levels of 1.2 per 1,000 residents.
Bianco maintains Sniff had an easy and immediate solution to adding more patrol deputies to maintain community policing but chose to ignore it. “I know the corrections part of the department,” said Bianco, who served as deputy at Larry Smith Correctional Facility when he began his career with the department and more recently as Lieutenant. “There are currently 350 sworn deputies serving in correctional at higher rates of pay than correctional deputies,” he noted. “Those deputies could be moved immediately back to patrol duty and community policing could resume.”
He explained that it would also serve taxpayers since correction deputies make, on average, less per year than sworn deputies, and that by instituting the redeployment, it could produce $8 to $12 million in savings. “We’re the only [sheriff’s] department in Southern California that operates with two different classes of deputies doing the same thing.” He cites that Sniff could have fixed all this, but that he is not a capable administrator.
When asked about his own qualifications to better administer such a massive department, Bianco cites his current assignment at Larry Smith where he is responsible for floor operations, business operations, support operations and transportation. “Unfortunately, voters don’t know that lieutenants in the department run everything,” he stated. “Lieutenants in administration do the budgets. Lieutenants do most of the work in the department.
“I’ve been running Larry Smith for the last two and a half to three years,” said Bianco clarifying that his background in his various assignments within the department equip him to do a better job than Sniff in running the department.
Asked what his priorities would be were he to defeat Sniff, Bianco said, “I’d improve patrols; restore the ethical culture of our department and manage the department to make it better serve county residents and be more effective in reducing crime.”
Given his current job running Larry Smith, Bianco said he would ameliorate alleged crime increases and recidivism caused, in part, by early release of prisoners because of insufficient jail bed space. “I would substantially increase work release programs,” he explained, “assigning early release inmates to work crews and cleaning department stations.”
Commenting on inadequate present jail bed space, Bianco noted, “It’s one of those things where we use excuses not to add jail beds.” Bianco said a new department philosophy of preventing crime through more patrols on the street, where deputies get to know specific neighborhoods, ultimately would stop the revolving door of release then recidivism that continues to demand more and more jail space.
“I’m running because the direction of the Sheriff’s Department is by the sheriff,” he concluded. “The only way to change the culture is to change the sheriff.”
See www.biancoforsheriff.com for more information on Bianco’s candidacy.