I read today the Press Enterprise editorial criticizing the Riverside County Board of Supervisors for bowing to the power of the Riverside Sheriff’s Association by refusing to review the sheriff’s department’s policies and procedures. You have finally exposed the real power inside the 10th largest county in the nation: the RSA.
The president of the RSA stood before the county’s governing body and silently reminded them that his organization had financially supported their political careers. But when he took the microphone, the message was loud and clear: the sheriff is in charge and not this board.
What was left unsaid is that his union members spent nearly $1 million to get “their guy” elected sheriff, and although on paper he may be in charge, the union is now clearly in command and control of the entire county.
While political involvement by this union is nothing new, the financial and human resources that they bring to the table have radically elevated their level of influence. They can now back any political race they so choose. They can support and promote candidates, or they can tear down those who dare to question their seemingly unlimited power and unchallenged authority.
In the Coachella Valley, the county is building the John J. Benoit Detention Center, named after former California Highway Patrol commander, state legislator and county supervisor John Benoit. The RSA once took issue with this man and hurled numerous political hand grenades his way, but true and false. In an ironic twist of fate, RSA members will now be the ones working inside the walls of this new facility. Thankfully, they were not able to derail the political career of this fine man.
As the campaign season begins to ramp up, I ask your editorial board to remain vigilant and report on the candidates this union supports and the ones that they attack. The voters need you to keep shining your light on this group.