Category: News

Santa Clara County Sheriff Candidate Joe LaJeunesse Endorses Sheriff Laurie Smith

Santa Clara County Sheriff Candidate Joe LaJeunesse Endorses Sheriff Laurie Smith

[SANTA CLARA COUNTY, October 8, 2018] Sheriff Laurie Smith announced today that one of her June primary opponents has endorsed her candidacy for the November ballot.

“I’m very pleased that Joe LaJeunesse has endorsed my re-election,” said Sheriff Smith. “I look forward to working with him and his supporters to make our Office the very best we can be in the future.”

“Today I am announcing my endorsement and unequivocal support for the re-election of Sheriff Laurie Smith.” said Deputy Joe LaJeunesse, who finished third in the June Primary with over 11% of the total vote.

“As this campaign has developed, I know Sheriff Laurie Smith is dedicated to leading the Sheriff’s Office in the right way. My supporters and I will work with her to speed the changes we both agree must occur.” LaJeunesse said.

Santa Clara County sheriff candidates debate jail issues at nonprofit forum – Mercury News

SAN JOSE — With just over a month before the Santa Clara County sheriff is chosen, incumbent Laurie Smith and challenger John Hirokawa sparred over reforming the county’s jails, particularly with eliminating the cycle of mentally ill and homeless inmates who end up there largely due to limited outside resources.

The two debated at a candidate forum Monday held by the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits, and sought to distinguish themselves from each other despite supervising the sheriff command staff together for several years, including the aftermath of the death of Michael Tyree, the mentally ill inmate whose 2015 murder by three jail deputies spurred the current reform movement.

Smith touted a host of improvements in correctional officer training, inmate classification, and the handling of inmate grievances in the ensuing years, brought in part by a blue-ribbon commission that made over 100 reform recommendations. She also described her challenger as mostly absent.

“When this happened, he ran and hid. He was nowhere around,” Smith said. “I had to step in and take charge of the operation.”

Read the rest of the article at Mercury News

Santa Clara County sheriff candidates trade barbs, revive racist-text scandal at first general election debate – Mercury News

SAN JOSE — In her first runoff debate in 20 years, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith repeatedly and methodically revived a racist texting scandal in an effort to rattle her upstart challenger, retired Undersheriff John Hirokawa.

It turned the Wednesday night candidate forum at Evergreen Valley College into a public rehashing of the waning controversy with Smith, the five-term incumbent, and Hirokawa, her former second-in-command, exchanging barbs and blame for the recent shameful chapter of the Sheriff’s Office’s history.

“This is something my opponent doesn’t want to talk about,” Smith said in her opening remarks, before portraying Hirokawa as meekly backing the perpetrators of the scandal.

Smith continually referenced the illicit texting, which led to the firing or resignation of the previous presidents of her agency’s two labor unions.

Smith pounced on the lengthy exchanges of vile messages denigrating people of color — first reported by this news organization and further reported by Metro — on nearly every turn, even when asked about the notion equipping jail deputies with Tasers.

Hirokawa, at first, gamely adhered to the debate format moderated by San Jose State University associate professor William Armaline, pushing his mantra of bringing “trust, transparency and reform” to the Sheriff’s Office, where he spent his career spanning four decades. As Smith flexed her political savvy, he sought to convey his novice status as a strength.

Read the rest of the article at Mercury News

Santa Clara County touts drone ban above wildfires and jails – Mercury News

SAN JOSE — Anyone who flies a drone above a wildfire zone or jail facility in Santa Clara County can now be charged with a misdemeanor under a new ordinance aimed at stopping drones from interfering with firefighting efforts and dropping contraband on jail grounds, officials announced Thursday.

The county public-outreach campaign comes after Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed SB 1355, a statewide law authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, that outlaws flying a drone above California prisons, jails, juvenile halls, camps and ranches.

The county ordinance, which was adopted in June, goes further than the new law, which deals with violations as infractions subject to a $500 fine. The ordinance entails maximum fines of $1,000, a possible $2,500 nuisance abatement penalty, and potential criminal prosecution.

“It’s common sense. Public safety is first and paramount,” county Supervisor Mike Wasserman said at a news conference Thursday, adding that “there is no place for a drone to be in the way” of firefighting operations.

Read the rest of the article at Mercury News

Cattle caper: South Bay landowner arrested in killing of livestock in grazing dispute – Mercury News

A rural Santa Clara County landowner has been arrested after investigators alleged he shot and buried nearly a dozen cattle earlier this summer in the throes of a violent grazing dispute, according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

Marc Belluomini, 54, of Fremont, was arrested Monday and booked at the Santa Clara County jail on suspicion of 11 counts of animal cruelty, two counts of illegal cattle driving, and brandishing a firearm. He was released after posting $200,000 bail.

The 11 cattle eventually unearthed on Belluomini’s land were found alongside numerous shell casings, and some of the dead animals had fragments of high-powered rifle rounds in them, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The cattle in question belonged to a pair of cattle owners who had reached an agreement earlier in the year where their livestock could graze on a 1,500-acre piece of land Belluomini owned near the Cañada de Los Osos Ecological Preserve, south of Henry Coe State Park and north of Highway 152 east of Gilroy.

Read the rest of the article at Mercury News

BART’s safety problem: Police, emergency workers hold South Bay active-shooter training – Mercury News

For the first time, a new emergency protocol that would send San Jose firefighters into an active-shooting zone to save lives was tested out Saturday in a multi-agency training exercise.

A thunderous explosion kicked off the exercise around 11:45 a.m. at the under-construction new BART station in Milpitas. Inside the station and parking garage, some 40 police academy trainees and others decorated with stage-makeup bullet wounds, broken bones, contusions and other injuries screamed and moaned, while the “dead” lay still.

The training project — which included about 100 police, firefighters and paramedics, two role-playing active shooters with assault-style rifles, a suspicious package on a BART train and a great deal of simulated gunfire — saw San Jose firefighters practicing to enter shooting zones before police have taken out the threat. The new protocol, which involves turning firefighters essentially into combat medics by supplying them with military-style bullet-resistant vests, helmets and collapsible stretchers, came into effect about two years ago.

Read the rest of the article at Mercury News

San Jose Police Union Withdraws Endorsement of John Hirokawa’s Bid to Unseat Sheriff Smith – San Jose Inside

San Jose’s police union announced Tuesday that it pulled its endorsement of retired Santa Clara County Undersheriff John Hirokawa’s campaign to unseat his former boss, Sheriff Laurie Smith, in November’s general election.

The San Jose Police Officers’ Association (POA) said Hirokawa failed to denounce officers involved in a texting scandal—including Don Morrissey the embattled president of the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association (DSA) that bankrolled his campaign—until they became a political liability. POA members voted to remain neutral in the sheriff’s race.

Losing the POA’s support is the latest blow to Hirokawa, who recently came under fire for his association with Morrissey after San Jose Inside/Metro Silicon Valley exposed the extent of the union president’s involvement in thousands of homophobic, racist and sexist texts exchanged in 2014 and 2015.

Read the rest of the article at San Jose Inside

Editorial: Re-elect Laurie Smith as Santa Clara County sheriff – Daily Post

It’s possible that Santa Clara County voters will get two chances this year to vote for sheriff.

With five candidates in the June 5 primary, it’s unlikely that any of them will reach the 50% threshold necessary to win the job outright. That means the top two vote-getters will have a run-off in November.

And that strikes us as a good thing. Campaigns compel the public to study the issues in a race before they vote. Two campaigns, one right now and another this fall, will bring more attention to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, which has 2,025 employees and a budget of $437 million including the jail.

It’s a serious job that requires a large toolbox of skills.

Read the rest of the article at Daily Post