Monday, August 19, 2019

• Speech Highlights: Sheriff Chad Bianco

One of the recurring items on my calendar is the monthly Southwest California Legislative Council meeting (commonly known as The Ledge Meeting)

Its key members belong to the various local chambers of commerce: Temecula, Lake Elsinore, Menifee and of course Murrieta/Wildomar.

The mission is to discuss legislation that is wending its way through Sacramento, and to either support or oppose key bills that will have an impact on business.

There are also periodic guest speakers, and the most recent guest was our Sheriff, Chad Bianco.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco.
He spoke for about half an hour, and I was so energized by his remarks that I couldn't wait to share my favorite highlights from it with you. I'll transcribe them in the order that they came. He's quite the engaging speaker. (No wonder why he defeated the incumbent 58-41)


His opening thoughts
• My vision is that the Sheriff's Department will address quality of life issues. 

• Community oriented policing, you have to be involved with the community in order to know what the community [issues are]. We are pushing a complete different way of doing business onto our deputies. They get out, they talk to residents, they talk to business owners and they find out what the needs are, and they report that back to us.

• Social media is fantastic. We're actively —completely redoing our social media to engage with the public and we're getting tons of information so we know what areas need attention.

Staffing
• My only limitation right now is personnel. Throughout the campaign I ran on the premise that we were being mismanaged. Both fiscally and personnel wise. The way we staffed and the way we spent our money was —I believe we should have been doing better. When I took over, I realized that I had severely underestimated how bad it really was. Our staffing was to a point where we were borderline failing. To where we would have had to ask other agencies for help. 

• We had 119 deputies assigned to the unincorporated areas of the county. We were supposed to have, and we had the money for, 300. We were roughly a third of staffing.

• The benchmark of staffing, and I will never use this because I think it was a flawed system to begin with [where] the government came up with 1 deputy per 1000, that's the benchmark. The Board of Supervisors, their goal for us is 0.75. We're supposed to be at 0.75 [officers] per 1000 residents. When I took over we were at 0.41. We had the money, we just were not hiring. 

• In the first three months of the year I hired more deputies than were [hired] in all of last year.

• Our academies are maxed out. We are mandated by post that we can only have 80 people in an academy [class]. They give us a 10% leeway so we get 88.

• It's basically a numbers game. It's how fast can I get people here. I can't really make a huge difference with all of the things I want to do until I get the bodies to do it. I don't need the money to do it —I have the money to do it. It will be three years of me hiring as many people as I possibly can before I'll have to ask for more money. That's how short staffed we are.

• About 86% of our budget is staffing [...] When I started we were 256 deputies and 400 correctional deputies short, but I have the money for them —that's the good part for me, now all I have to do is hire them.

• If you know anybody that wants to work for the Sheriff's Department, we seriously are hiring every position you can think of in the department. 

New Jail in Indio
• The jail is a fiasco [...] When I came on in January they told me that the jail was going to open in April-ish, and they actually said, "April-ish". Then it went to June-ish, then it went to August-ish, then into September-ish, and now we will be lucky if it opens by January.... ish, and it'll probably be later than that.

• When the jail opens, it'll be fantastic because it'll give us 1600 beds that we don't have, but it'll more than likely be at the beginning of next year. We have the staffing right now to open the initial phase. 

• It makes it a little more difficult because it's in Indio, because no one wants to commute to Indio or move to Indio. That's another one of those government things, they can see the perfect spot in [the] center part of Cabazon, where they were going to build it, and political pressure made them go to Indio, and now we can't find staff that wants to work in Indio. 

Cannabis
• Marijuana is illegal to grow in the county of Riverside. If you are growing marijuana, I hope you don't have more than 24 plants if there's two of you with medical marijuana cards. Otherwise you're growing too much marijuana.

• One person, with six plants, that's what's legal. Bottomline, State of California, County of Riverside, one person can have six plants. If you are smoking all the marijuana you can generate from six marijuana plants, you're not functioning anyway (laughter from the crowd), because all you're doing is sitting around, stoned (more laughter).

• We know that the majority of the marijuana that is being grown in Riverside County is being shipped back east. It's simple math. If they were growing it for a legitimate co-op dispensary it's [worth] about $800 per pound. If they take it back east and sell, it where it's illegal, they can get $5000 a pound.

• In county areas, if you have a plastic greenhouse next to you (pregnant pause) that is not for daisies. Everyone of those greenhouses, more than likely, contain marijuana, and if you've got a greenhouse, that fits more than 6 plants.
Seems like more than six plants to me.
• Part of my goal is to rid Riverside County of illegal marijuana growth. [...] It destroys quality of life, it destroys the environment. We were on a grow about two weeks ago [...] we were on a 100 acre parcel, in the hills [...] it was an outdoor grow, one of the few outdoor grows that are out there. We had to hike up and down these hills while we were pulling the plants. We were there for about three hours. [We didn't see] one rabbit, not one mouse, not one bird, not one anything. It was completely void of wildlife. If you've ever been up there, you know that's not the norm.

• When you walk out through the hills anywhere around here, there are animals all over the place. They (the growers) are killing everything because they (the animals) eat the marijuana. [They] kill the rabbits, which in turn kills the coyotes, the bobcats, the hawks. Then everything else dies off that has anything to do with that food chain. 
Illegal outdoor grow recently busted up.
• We recently started targeted enforcements, zero tolerance enforcements. So far we've done a small one in Lakeland Village, a small one in San Jacinto, and a large one in Woodcrest/Perris, and a large one last week in Moreno Valley. I can promise you that we're coming to a neighborhood near you because people do it everywhere in the county.

• While the state has decriminalized drug use, I can tell you that the absolute majority, if not all, of what I deal with has to do with drugs. Whether it's gangs, it has to do with drugs. If it's domestic violence, usually deals with some type of alcohol and or drugs. All theft is about drugs. The homeless issue, is about drugs. Everything is about drugs.  Drugs are our problem. I don't know if you know or if you care, but I'm telling you 'drugs are our problem'. 

• 'It's only a misdemeanor', I don't care. 'They're going to get out of jail', I don't care, I'll take them back to jail. They can do life, weekends at a time. When they get out, we'll take them back. They'll get out, we'll take them back. Crime is an opportunistic event. Criminals go places where they can commit crime and they can get away with it. If they don't think they're going to get away with it, they don't do it. Our goal is to inconvenience them enough that they would leave, or stop. (Joke time coming) I will get every city police chief on board with me, and we will make all of the criminals move to San Bernardino County (the group gave a hearty laugh at that).

• The mentality that I bring to this job is don't ever tell me I can't do something. Don't tell me I can't fix something. Don't tell me I can't make a difference, because I'm just going to show you that I can. The easy answer is, "There's nothing we can do." You've heard for the last ten years, "There's nothing we can do. It's not our fault. There's nothing I can do, it's the Board of Supervisors. It's the voters' fault. It's the Governor's fault. It's everybody's fault."

• I will never be a victim, and I believe that if I'm not helping you, it is my fault. 

Homelessness
• I'm not going to say because some city council members, some Board of Supervisors, some politicians want —for whatever reason— [a] big hands off approach to the homeless. Everybody's afraid of the homeless, apparently they want to end up like Orange County, and that's not me. I really, honestly believe —I know that about 80%, or so, maybe even more, the homeless that we deal with choose to be there. They're not going to take housing. They're not going to take assistance. They're not going to want medical care. They are there because that's the lifestyle they choose. And why? Because you guys keep giving them money, so they stay. As long as you keep giving them money, they're going to stay. 

• Legitimately there are some that are homeless. Whether it be domestic violence. Whether it be they're just down on their luck. Some legitimately are in severe need of mental health care.

• No matter what, when you have a problem with a homeless person, whether it be someone with mental health problems, someone asking for money, or blocking an entrance to a business. We are first responders and we're the ones that go out there first. If it's not something we can deal with criminally, because that's our job, then we leave. Nothing we can do. If they're mentally ill, that's not the job of a deputy, to deal with a mentally ill person. 

• We're coming up with a program, we're starting it in Moreno Valley where they've already been doing it, and we have a mental health clinician that's riding along with the deputy. If any of the deputies on that shift come into a call service where someone needs mental care, that unit, and that clinician are going to handle that call. That clinician ends up handling everything and the deputies go back to work, and we go on about our business. Then the county can help those legitimate homeless people that need help. I believe that's the best way to do it, I'm all for that, because there are legitimately are people that need help. If they don't need help, we're going to help them with the gun, and the badge and the handcuffs, and we'll deal with them afterwards. 

• We're really working on the homeless situation. We know it's a problem everywhere. It doesn't matter if it's Temecula, Corona, Palm Desert, Indian Wells. Even the most affluent places that we have still have a homeless issue. 

• It's not a crime to be homeless, but it is a crime, still, to be on drugs, it's a crime to be in possession of drugs, it's a crime to have stolen property —even if it's a shopping cart. That shopping cart is stolen and now I can go contact that person. We're dealing with it as quickly and as [seriously] as we can. I wish we could do it everywhere at the same time, but that's where we are. As soon as I have full staffing, within that year and a half to two years, we will be doing it all day long, in every community that we serve. Until then, we have to target certain areas. We're not going to tell you where we're targeting because that kind of defeats the purpose. 

Public Safety
• I want Riverside county to be a known as one of the safest places in the country to live. I want to be a part of making that happen. We're going to be doing everything we possibly can.

• You're never going to get a political answer from me, it's either yes or no. Ask anything that you want. I answer social media constantly. Be prepared for the answer, because it's going to be the answer and it might not be the one that you want to hear, and it gets me in trouble sometimes, but oh well.

Rising Costs
• The contract cities' costs will decrease. They've substantially gone up over the last several years, and honestly, we really don't know why. My administration, we really don't know why. We were able to get it down to barely over 2% increase, it was supposed to be projected to be 6% or 7%. Just in six months we were able to keep it down to 2%. I believe if we'd had a full year we'd have gotten it down to a decrease, instead of even breaking even. 

CCW (concealed carry weapon permit)
• CCW's, throughout the campaign, was a huge issue. Everywhere I went that's what everyone wanted to know about. We completely redid our CCW program. How we do business is completely online. What used to take two years before I took office in January, is now —the fastest we've done it is seventeen days. 

• I've said "no" to a lot of people. I'm not just giving them out. I'm not cutting corners so everybody can have one. If you don't deserve one or if you shouldn't have one you're not going to get one. If you are a good law abiding citizen and you want one, then you're going to get one.

• We went from, what the previous sheriff had, 3 people in the entire county that were authorized to do the training, we now have 14. 

Closing Remarks
• We have a lot of work to do in the next several years, but trust me, we can't wait to make a difference. I really do believe I'm here to make sure I serve you. This has absolutely nothing to do with me, it's about you and I'm just in a place that I can make people happy.
Sheriff Bianco has a very good natured way of getting his points across.
I've heard Sheriff Bianco speak twice now. The first time was in January when he hadn't been in office a month. Now eight months into his first term and I can see things getting done with his no nonsense approach. 

I'm proud to say that I voted for him, and am happy that our top cop in Riverside County has a solid can do attitude. 
Links
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Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all.
– Abraham Lincoln

Wildomar Rap would like to point out that Honest Abe said nothing about blogs.

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