Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas told gun rights supporters Tuesday night that he favors a middle ground with respect to restricting guns, even as he acknowledged that the state’s current assault weapons law has on one occasion left his staff baffled.
The sun is setting on the iconic police cruiser, Ford’s Crown Victoria, and its first slick replacement has hit Sonoma County streets. A sheriff’s deputy is now cruising the north county beat behind the wheel of a prototype Police Interceptor, Ford’s 2013 model based on the four-door Taurus with a battery of improvements from engine to aesthetics.
The diversion of state prisoners to county supervision has changed the culture in Sonoma County’s jail, making it more violent, while forcing the early release of petty criminals, Sheriff Steve Freitas said Wednesday.
Attacks on correctional deputies have increased 72 percent since the dramatic shift was instituted 12 months ago and fights between inmates are increasing, he said. However, he said he could not immediately provide specific data on the specific numbers of such incidents.
At the same time, the influx of more serious felons serving longer sentences has required the jail to release those convicted of lesser offenses on electronic home confinement, Freitas said.
Over nine months ending in September, the jail released 231 people eligible for detention alternatives who were serving time for such offenses as drunken driving, drug use and theft, Freitas said.
More than 100 people gathered in front of the Sonoma County Jail in Santa Rosa on Thursday afternoon for a prayer vigil to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a legislation limiting local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration agents.
Sonoma County immigration advocates and Sheriff Steve Freitas have worked cooperatively in the past but now are clashing over legislation before Gov. Jerry Brown.
If signed into law, the measure would prohibit local police agencies from detaining suspected illegal immigrants on federal immigration holds, except in cases where suspects have been charged with a serious or violent felony or convicted of one in the past.
Freitas opposes the measure, saying it would force him to either defy the new state law or ignore federal regulations.
Randall Walker, a 21-year veteran of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, has been appointed assistant sheriff in charge of the county jail system and related programs. In naming him to the post, Sheriff Steve Freitas commended Walker’s work in the detention division, where he has served as a captain since 2007. Freitas praised in particular Walker’s work with community groups dealing with civil rights, diversity and mental illness.
Cameras at the courthouse are not new. But with the rise of multi-defendant gang cases drawing dozens of onlookers — and with the strain of staff reductions — cameras are seeing more action in Sonoma County courtrooms. Some see the devices as an invasion of privacy rights and an incursion on civil liberties. What’s your take?
The Petaluma City Council voted Monday to ask mortgage lenders and regulators to halt foreclosures during the holidays, a symbolic gesture that granted a real victory to protesters who proposed the idea. The council also voted to ask Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas to refrain from assisting evictions from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. “I hope we can prompt some second thinking on the parts of some of these financial institutions,” Vice Mayor Mike Healy said.
Santa Rosa is installing five new surveillance cameras downtown as part of an effort to protect the nation’s “critical infrastructure.” But officials refuse to discuss just exactly what they are protecting downtown, citing a need for secrecy not often cited by local officials — national security.
Sonoma County is set to spend nearly $3.4 million this budget year and add more than 21 probation, jail, health and counseling positions to deal with the new shift of some criminals and state parolees to county supervision. The plan, which was approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, calls for 19 new jobs in the probation department and the Sheriff’s Office.