Steve Moore - Sheriff candidate profile
by Glenn Moore
May 16, 2014 | 3921 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sheriff Steve Moore
Sheriff Steve Moore
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San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore is running for re-election to a third term as the county’s top cop.

Moore, 58, was first elected sheriff in 2006 and has worked in law enforcement for more than 35 years, according to his website, commanding every major full-time division of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office since he joined as a deputy in 1982.

Moore will face Pat Withrow, a sergeant in the sheriff’s department, in the June 3 election.

Overseeing a department of 840 employees, including 290 full-time sworn deputies, 53 part-time sworn deputies and 241 full-time correctional officers, Moore said he had some challenges still to resolve as sheriff.

“The one thing of all the things I promised when I first got elected in 2006 that has yet to be tackled is building a new jail and getting us out from under the court cap,” Moore said. “Those are the last two things I want to accomplish in my career.”

Responding to jail overcrowding

One of the reasons the jail is still on Moore’s to-do list is Assembly Bill 109, Public Safety Realignment, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2011. The law mandates that people sentenced to less serious, non-violent crimes and non-sex offenses serve their time in county jails instead of state prisons.

“Public safety realignment has just totally thrown a monkey wrench into everything we are currently doing,” Moore said. “If I didn’t have those people, my jail population would be way down, things would be a lot different. Our crime rates would be different.”

For the coming year, the sheriff said he expected a county budget shortfall of $13 million to $15 million.

Moore said he has the resources, the relationships and the tools to make the sheriff’s office more successful in the future, even with continuing economic limits.

“I have been very good with the budget over the past seven and a half, going on eight years,” Moore said. “We have been able to keep ourselves on budget or under and still maintain the lion’s share of services without having to lay off any deputy sheriffs in the process.”

Moore is now considering housing inmates two to a cell until money could be found to expand the county jail. He said that jail inmates have been double bunked periodically in the past several years, even though each cell has only one bed, requiring one inmate to sleep on the floor.

The San Joaquin County Superior Court requires the jail staff to find the second inmate a bed within 24 hours.

“To make it permanent, we would take out the single bunks and put in regular bunk beds, double bunk it and make it a permanent change, raising the capacity,” Moore said, explaining that the sheriff’s office was cooperating with the California Board of State and Community Corrections. He did not say how the change would affect the county budget.

San Joaquin County had been approved to receive $80 million from the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007, which Moore said he wanted to use to build a 1,280-bed jail, but supervisors decided the county couldn’t afford the yearly operating costs and turned down the money.

In 2012, the state Legislature passed Senate Bill 1022, authorizing up to $500 million in bonds to fund construction of adult criminal justice facilities. The county initially qualified for $33.3 million under SB 1022 but was pushed out by a successful appeal by Stanislaus County.

Moore said that even if the state released more funds July 1, it would take 18 months to two years to build a jail expansion.

Moore’s latest proposal is a medium-security addition with 32 two-bunk cells, built with pre-cast concrete tilt-up walls. He explained that the state requires jails constructed with bond money to meet certain standards, including a lifespan of at least 40 years.

The sheriff said a proposal by Withrow, his opponent, to house inmates in modular buildings — Moore called it a “portable jail” — was unlikely to meet those standards. His plan, he said, would have “a little more longevity.”

“The problem with the portable systems (is) right now — even now if there was money available today — I don’t believe the Board of State and Community Corrections would fund such a project, because the money is lease revenue bond funding. It has to last a longer period of time,” Moore said.

Moore also said he didn’t think portable modular buildings were secure enough to satisfy the state’s requirements, and the necessary modifications would drive up costs.

The sheriff said the other problem was the staffing cost. Moore said it would take more deputies to supervise inmates split between two facilities than the same number of inmates housed in the current jail.

By contract with the San Joaquin Deputy Sheriffs Association, one deputy must be present at the county jail for every 64 inmates. Providing 24/7 supervision of one 64-inmate unit takes the equivalent of 4.6 full-time deputies. Moore said the average deputy’s yearly salary is $120,000 and running one jail unit for a year takes $800,000, including food and other inmate necessities.

San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp has a rated capacity of 1,411. On May 6, the day Moore spoke with the Tracy Press editorial board, the facility held 1,477 inmates — just over 23 units.

Policing south county

Moore said the sheriff’s department made strides under his leadership in community policing.

He pointed to the community car program, which began two years ago and assigns one deputy to a particular rural community. The program’s success in Morada, east of Stockton, is a model for the rest of the county, Moore said, and he hopes to complete a five-year rollout to reach all the county’s rural communities.

Moore said his plans to increase deputy coverage of Mountain House had to be abandoned when the economy worsened. He said the town’s most serious problems were online and identity theft crimes and some gang trouble involving residents transplanted from the Bay Area. Quality of life issues, from traffic to animal nuisances, were among the top complaints he noted from residents.

He said that response times throughout the county — 13 minutes on average — have improved during his terms as sheriff, down from an average of 25 minutes or half an hour. He said the average response time for priority-one emergency calls is just eight minutes.

Moore said his passion for being the sheriff was the same as the day he started.

“It was never about money. It was about service to the community, it was about trying to do the right things, and I think I have been successful with that,” Moore said.

• Contact Glenn Moore at gmoore@tracypress.com or 830-4252.

 

Comments
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rosa62
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May 16, 2014
Sheriff Moore has had two terms to make changes and improve things. It's time for him to step aside and let some new blood have a chance to take the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department to the next level.


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