Sheriff Hopefuls Offer Differing Law Enforcement Philosophieschallenger,

SAN BERNARDINO— The two declared candidates for sheriff in next year’s election faced off October 7 in a forum sponsored by the Safety Employees Benefit Association, the union representing the sheriff’s department’s deputies.

Sheriff Rod Hoops, the incumbent, like his challenger, deputy Mark Averbeck, has never actually faced the voters. Hoops was appointed sheriff by the board of supervisors in January after he was endorsed by former sheriff Gary Penrod, who retired two years into his fourth term as sheriff on February 1.

Thus, Hoops is the flag bearer for the political machine that has controlled the sheriff’s office in San Bernardino County going back to 1954. Penrod, who was first elected in 1994, was endorsed by his predecessor, Dick Williams, who was elected sheriff in 1990 with the endorsement of his predecessor, Floyd Tidwell. Tidwell, who served two terms, was handpicked by Frank Bland, who was first elected in 1954 and was then reelected five times. The same political machine that Bland controlled has now been inherited by Hoops. That machine carries with it tremendous political fund raising capability, such that Hoops already has a several hundred thousand dollar advantage over any challengers in terms of money banked in his campaign war chest.

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Good ol’ Boys

Update:  Retiring Sheriff Gary Penrod has recommended Assistant Sheriff Rod Hoops fill the remaining two years of his term.

This morning, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors heeded Penrod’s advice and voted to circumvent the interview process for finding an interim replacement for Penrod.

Because the position of county sheriff is an elected office, Penrod’s replacement would be an appointee who would only serve until the 2010 election.

The board plans to vote Jan. 23 on appointing Hoops, a 30-year veteran in charge of operations,  to the position. If the vote goes through, Hoops would be sworn in on Feb. 3.

Normally, the board would collect applications from interested candidates and hold a public hearing to interview them. That process will not be conducted, the supervisors decided Tuesday.

In 1983, when San Bernardino County Sheriff Frank Bland retired, he handpicked Floyd Tidwell to replace him, and Tidwell had many months in office before the next election to make his name known to the public so re-election would not be a problem.

In 1991, Sheriff Tidwell retired – in January – and hand-picked Dick Williams, giving Williams many months in office to make his name known so election would not be a problem.

In January 1995 Sheriff Williams retired, and hand-picked Gary Penrod to replace him. Penrod also had several months in office before the next election to make his name known.

This week, Sheriff Penrod retired, and has apparently hand-picked Assistant Sheriff Rod Hoops as his replacement. Although Undersheriff Richard Beemer will be the interim sheriff, Penrod’s actual replacement will be selected by the county Board of Supervisors, probably within two months. The betting is on Hoops.

What you’re looking at here, of course, is the ultimate good ol’ boy network in full operation. Interlopers – people outside the system who oppose the anointed one to seek the office – have not been successful in San Bernardino County in the last 54 years.

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