Dave Brown, former chief of police for Hemet, is a candidate for Riverside County sheriff.
Photo courtesy Dave Brown

Dave Brown, former chief of police for the city of Hemet, is one of three challengers to the re-election of Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff.

“I’m the only outside candidate,” he said. “And I have actual experience leading a law-enforcement agency.”

Brown knows the Hill. He grew up in Hemet, attended Little Lake Elementary School, and graduated from Hemet High School in 1984.

His wife also is from Hemet and they have three children, whose ages range from 19 to 25.

After college, he started his law-enforcement career in Pomona, but, “I felt called to come back to Hemet and have served 25 years.” He retired Dec. 31, 2017, to pursue his campaign to replace Sniff.

“I supported the sheriff when he applied and in his first election,” Brown stated. “But there is failed leadership; they’re starving for leadership.

“I see the results every day. Deputies are leaving the department in droves. Dozens,” Brown claimed. “The sheriff should be a destination in this county.” As the Hemet Police chief, Brown said he hired a number of fantastic former county deputy sheriffs.

And this is Brown’s motivation for seeking the sheriff’s position. “It’s time to quit observing and complaining. It’s time to do something.

“The day I’m elected, the bleeding will stop. People will stop fleeing,” he averred.

Brown argues that the deputies are leaving the Sheriff’s Department because of the work environment. The constant and high turnover is creating too many vacancies to fill quickly because of the time it takes to vet a deputy applicant. He believes there is adequate funding for staff, the budget problems can be resolved and blaming the supervisors is not the solution.

Differences with supervisors have grown. After Brown announced his candidacy, supervisors John Tavaglione (2nd District) and Chuck Washington (3rd District) endorsed him for sheriff.

“There is no truth to the idea that sheriff can’t do the job because the board won’t give him the money,” Brown charged. “We elect a sheriff to keep us safe, no matter the budget.”

In his opinion, Brown believes that better use of technology and employees would lower the cost of policing in the county. He believes some of the recommendations for the consulting firm, KPMG, are valid.

For example, Brown advocates that greater use of civilian staff would give sworn deputies more time in the field. “This would reduce the response time to Idyllwild,” he noted.

“We don’t need deputy sheriffs writing press releases,” he stated. “We can’t afford to have deputy sheriffs do every job.”

When asked about the alleged cheating for deputy position, Brown was adamant
that should never occur, and the lack of forceful and visible reaction allows it to become embedded in the culture.

[The “cheating issue” refers to a 2015 incident in which questions and answers to a promotional exam — from deputy to investigator — were found to be circulating around the department. Apparently, no one was fired or demoted because of this incident, although it is possible, but not certain, that some people were suspended or otherwise disciplined.

He wrote and distributed his plan to restore public trust. One step was ensuring a procedure is in place that protects individuals with information to come forward in a confidential manner. Secondly, the District Attorney should launch an inquiry into the impact that this scandal has had or will have on past, present or future prosecutions or convictions. Thirdly, a county grand jury should investigate the issue.

“The sheriff doesn’t deal with it effectively,” Brown claimed. “It’s very serious when the culture says it’s OK.”

Early in his administration, Brown says he would revamp the hiring and promotion processes.

Brown also is critical of the lack of planning and preparation to open the new jail facility in Indio. The John J. Benoit Detention Center is expected to open later this year, but staffing has been an issue between the supervisors and Sniff for several years.

“He’s jeopardizing everyone in the county,” Brown asserted. “In 10 years, he has no plan to open the jail.”

Brown recommends that greater reliance be placed on recruiting and hiring correctional officers to man the new jail rather than sworn deputies. This would be faster and less expensive, according to Brown.

“Again we can have more deputy sheriffs in the field,” he offered.

“He got people convinced its financial issues, but it’s a staffing crisis he’s created,” Brown opined.

As he concluded, Brown stressed, “The deputy sheriffs [Riverside Sheriffs Association] is not supporting [Sniff] and not a single county police chief is supporting him.

“No other candidate can bring a fresh start,” Brown said.