Sheriff Defines Strategy
Scott Miller tags former P.G. City Manager to lead transition team
Thursday, December 16, 2010
With two weeks remaining before Sheriff-elect Scott Miller takes the reins at the county’s biggest law enforcement agency, he has brand new sets of olive drab sheriff’s uniforms on order, he’s just met with Sheriff Mike Kanalakis’ top brass and has freshly returned from a week-long course for the state’s 26 new sheriffs put on by the California State Sheriff’s Association.
It may not be a news flash, Miller says, but his biggest takeaway from the training was the bleak economic picture he’ll inherit.
Miller, the first Monterey County Sheriff in decades to be elected from outside the department, will oversee 330 deputies and a $72 million annual budget.
Miller says he’ll still audit the department as planned, especially key areas like the evidence room and crime lab. But those reviews may be constrained by lack of money.
He also will assess the department’s organizational structure, with the help of former Pacific Grove City Manager Jim Colangelo, who will lead his transition team.
“There is a lot of apprehension with an outsider coming in,” says former sheriff’s candidate Fred Garcia, a commander who retired early after a high profile dispute with Kanalakis and who came in third in the June 2010 primary.
Garcia, who backed Miller in the general election, cautions that the Sheriff-elect has to keep deputies informed of his plans. “He should put something out as soon as possible, say who’s on the transition team.”
Colangelo, who also has served as Assistant County Administrative Officer, will be joined by Capt. Chuck Monarch, of the Operations’ Bureau, and Cmdr. Jeff Budd, who currently works in corrections. Monarch and Budd are both Sheriff’s Office veterans with decades of experience at the office. Miller plans to name an additional transition team member from outside the office who is familiar with its operations.
“This is the team to look at the people and the structure of the organization, and come up with the best way to move forward,” Miller says, adding that his interim appointees will likely be in office for a month or two.
“It will give me time to hit the ground running,” Miller says.
Garcia wants to see the office’s management positions consolidated in order to put more deputies on the front lines.
“The investigations division has been depleted,” Garcia says. He says the crime lab also is severely understaffed and adds that the jail – where overcrowding is a perennial and well-publicized problem – speaks for itself. “We need more people for officer safety.”
Miller says it’s too early to come to definite conclusions. “The transition is a window of opportunity to get things set at the outset.”
Miller says he’s currently reading reams of reports, including state inspections of the Monterey County Jail, and he could be mulling lessons learned at last week’s new sheriff’s training.
Former San Benito County Sheriff Curtis Hill, who coordinated the sessions, says that in addition to schooling the new sheriffs on operations unique to running a department, such as being county coroner and avoiding political clashes with Boards of Supervisors, he put his students on notice.
“The thing that’s going to get you unelected and defeated is the jail. You, the sheriffs, are responsible for taking care of someone who’s had their freedom taken away.”