Sheriff Hopeful Schrader Pushing Department Reform

Paul Schrader says he is running for San Bernardino County sheriff because he believes “I can do a better job than what is being done now.”

In expanding on that point, Schrader said, “I am more qualified because I have a diverse background in law enforcement. I’ve worked as a supervisor in specialty positions in law enforcement including supervisor of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s legal unit, audit unit, risk analysis unit, as supervisor of operations, in the sheriff’s headquarters in Los Angeles and as a street deputy. I have a widely diverse background. I am from someplace else and have a perspective that can be utilized here. I am able to look at a department, do the basic jobs of an auditor and risk analysis teams to see what needs to be cut, where we need to reallocate funding and if we need to move manpower I can tell where we need to do that. Because I come from outside of the San Bernardino County sheriff’s department, I have a fresh pair of eyes to look at the overall structure of the department and bring a fresh start to the department.”

Schrader is challenging the incumbent, Rod Hoops, who was appointed to the post in 2009 after former sheriff Gary Penrod resigned. There is another candidate in the race, San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Mark Averbeck.

Already, Schrader said, he has come to some conclusions about the need for reform and reorganization in the department.

“One thing I believe needs to take place is greater public scrutiny of the sheriff’s executive branch,” he said. “I think we need transparency. We need to be open with the public and need to be open with the media. If we have an incident happen within the sheriff’s department we should speak to the press, without violating the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights, to let the public know what we are doing in all aspects of our operation. With regard to our jails, we should make the jails accessible to people, the residents of the county, who should be free to come in and take a tour of jail and see what is going on. Our books should be open as long as we are not giving away trade secrets or investigations. The citizens are share holders. If I was made the administrator, the only way to bring trust back to the sheriff’s department in my view would be to let people see the department as it is. I’ve been going around the county and people tell me they have lost trust in the administration of this department.

“I want to partner with the community by having community action groups,” Schrader continued. “I want people from all walks of life with diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. Anyone who feels disenfranchised would be invited to the table to help make suggestions on what we would be doing at the sheriff’s department. I would definitely be listening.”

Schrader said he further believes that the department needs to reform the way in which it allows or prohibits citizens to carry guns.

“Another thing I am interested in is the way concealed weapons permits are handled by the department,” Schrader said. “People are complaining all through the county that they feel that there is political game playing when it come to permits to carry a concealed weapon. One fellow told me he was basically denied consent to carry a concealed weapon on grounds that are nonsensical. When he applied for the CCW [consent to carry a concealed weapon] he was asked if he was a convicted felon. He said he wasn’t. He was asked if he was mentally ill. He wasn’t mentally ill. He was asked why did he want a CCW. He said he had a business and crime was so bad that he was concerned he would be robbed at night carrying large sums of money. The CCW was denied and they did not tell him a reason.

“He went to the department and asked them if they could give him a reason because he truly believed he deserved to get one and he wanted to not get robbed at night,” Schrader said. “He was steered to a female deputy who told him if an applicant mentioned that it could be work related, the CCW would be denied. I find that absolutely unacceptable. There are many other stories people tell me about how they were denied CCWs. I will carry out an audit when I am sheriff. Others can reapply after I am sheriff and I will look at the application. If they pass the gun safety test and are not mentally ill, have no criminal background and can demonstrate a legitimate need for a CCW, they will be granted one. I want to take the political posturing out of that system.”

Schrader said the circumstances have demonstrated a need for “fiscal accountability” in the sheriff’s department. “In a well run sheriff’s department, using effective accounting would be an asset to the entire county. The first thing I would do is ask for an internal audit of the entire department. All department commanders have discretionary funding. How is that being spent? How is the department employing deputies and equipment? I think I can save money by probing equipment and technology and using them in a more effective way.”

Schrader said he had some definitive ideas about making the department’s operations more efficient.

“Instead of guard towers at the jail and instead of paying deputy sheriffs $136,000 per year, which is their level of pay including all benefits, for thirty years, I would purchase video cameras and equipment as a onetime purchase and as a replacement of professional staff and place them in areas to monitor the inmates and redeploy deputies into areas such as patrol or into the crimes against children investigative unit, which has been cut back tremendously due to budget cuts. We need to use technology, use different resources to save money and still bolster crime fighting in San Bernardino County.”

Schrader, 46, was born in Mesa, Arizona and attended high school in Clay County, Arkansas. In his 27-year career in law enforcement, he has worked for the San Clemente Police Department, the West Memphis Police Department in Arkansas and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, where he is currently employed. He attended Saddleback College, Rio Hondo College, San Diego State University, Rancho Santa Margarita College and Santa Ana City College. He holds a degree in criminal justice.

He served in the Marine Corps, including two with the Naval Investigative Service. He and his wife, Judy, have five children.


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