Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens spoke at a Garden Grove Rotary luncheon at the Marriott Suites. She said restoring the public trust was her first priority.
“After the prior sheriff’s problems, it made it important that the public trust the sheriff’s office. Before, if you had a complaint, you actually had to come down to our office in Santa Ana. Now you can call it in, go online, and even get mediation. Mediation has worked very well so the officer can see what’s on their mind and vice-versa.”
Hutchens was appointed to be sheriff by the county supervisors to fill out the term of Mike Corona, who resigned and was later convicted of witness tampering. He was sentenced to 66 months in prison but is currently free on appeal. That term ends in January of 2011.
Hutchens will campaign for her own term next June but wanted to tell the local group of Rotarians, chamber of commerce members, and other Garden Grove residents and business owners, what she is doing.
“The jail was my hardest problem. We have a jail population of 6500 of which 80 percent are felons. We must comply with the laws and we have gone a long way in doing that.” Hutchens said that there was not a pervasive culture of bad activities and negligence in the jails but she did have to fire some deputies to make her point.
Hutchens answered a question about another controversial subject in Orange County, gun control.”Corona had about 1200 concealed weapon permits issued. Some of them did not meet the criteria for having the permits so I really ruffled some feathers. There are 900 of them issued right now.”
Hutchens said the only thing that keeps her awake at night is the security of our harbors and ocean borders. “I have had exrtensive training with homeland security and I will be increasing our security in that area all the time.”
Hutchens recently sent three representatives to Fort Hood to be briefed on those problems as she has Camp Pendleton in her jurisdiction and wants to be prepared.
“She is very impressive,” said Rotary Vice president Don Alexander. “You can see why she was picked from 48 candidates for the job.”