Though we believe Sheriff Steve Moore is the best equipped right now to tackle the issues, we have some concerns.
Moore is a proven quantity when it comes to balancing his budget. He has helped his department weather the worst recession in recent history and done so without laying off deputies. Moore also has the experience to run such a large organization — and while the San Joaquin Deputy Sheriffs Association has decided not to support his re-election, when you consider his fiscal history, that seems to signal that he can make tough decisions.
With all of that said, some pressing issues exist now under Moore’s administration that must be addressed.
• Some of the problems facing our jail system today are not of Moore’s making. Because of the State of California Public Safety Realignment of 2011, people sentenced to non-violent and non-sex offenses serve their time in county jails instead of state prisons. That has left San Joaquin County Jail overcrowded and the sheriff’s office with little choice other than allowing some criminals back on the street to make room.
Moore has said that he was not allowed to put grants he secured into use to build a new jail. He now hopes to find money to build prefabricated detention facilities. Of course, when funds are available, Moore said it would take 18 months to build them. He also said he planned to add bunk beds to existing jail cells to double the population. That seems less than ideal and potentially even risky for correctional officers.
Though he did not create the overcrowding at the jail, the county needs a more immediate solution — not down the line, if and when funding is available.
• The staffing of communities in the south county is worrisome. The sheriff said average response times are down to about 13 minutes, from what he said used to be about 25 minutes. When we asked about coverage in Mountain House — with which the department has a contract to provide police service — he said that plans to increase deputy service in Mountain House and other south county areas had to be abandoned when the economy worsened.
Moore did say that the most often-reported complaints in Mountain House were animal nuisances and other quality of life issues, but he added that some residents imported a gang presence when they moved into the community from the Bay Area.
Moore also said he hopes to one day duplicate the Community Car program — assigning a deputy directly to a community, which he said has been successful in Morada — in other communities in our area.
The rural areas that surround Tracy rely upon service from the sheriff’s department, and we hope the sheriff understands their need and improves our coverage soon.
We believe Sheriff Steve Moore offers the best opportunity for local residents and endorse his campaign for the Primary Election June 3.