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New San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus Speaks with KVCR

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San Bernardino County Sheriff
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San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus took office earlier this week after Sheriff John McMahon retired this past Friday. KVCR’s Jonathan Linden spoke to the Sheriff to hear his overall goals for the department and things he would like to change.

In his interview with KVCR, Sheriff Dicus discussed many things, including steps the department took during COVID-19, its response to the growing number of illegal marijuana farms in the county, police reform he would like to see, and his opinion of the Defund the Police movement.

When asked about his priorities now that he is in office, Sheriff Dicus responded saying, "The First thing I'm going to introduce is 13 deputy sheriffs into our county areas. Specifically, as you seen with violent crime rates, particularly with aggravated assault, all of those crime rates are up, and I think we can solve some of those problems by infusing some more cops in those areas." He added, "Additionally, quality of life crime in San Bernardino County, particularly in our rural areas, is illegal marijuana cultivation right now. And one of my top priorities is increasing the marijuana team that deals with illegal cultivations, from one team to five. Because it has just proliferated our desserts, waters being pumped out of the ground at ridiculous rates, and we have residents all over the county that are very upset with smelling it, and people who are protecting their groves are confronting civilians who live in the area. It's just a big problem." Sheriff Dicus also said that `the county has "Over 1,000 identified illegal marijuana farms, particularly in our dessert areas that range from the Phelan area, to the Barstow area, Lucerne Valley area, and then all the way to the Morongo area."

When asked about the talks of police reform around the country, Sheriff Dicus respond by saying, "It's really (about) taking a person from cradle to career and what government provides for them. And we're talking about a number of things that everybody is looking at, equity in a few places. Well, in my mind, a Sheriff's office can affect equity and some of these justice change initiatives; the best is really with the reentry population since we control the jails. Having more robust reentry initiatives, I think is where we need to be at to address equity."

When asked about the Defund the Police movement, Sherrif Dicus said he didn't have to deal with that because the county's citizens support them. Adding that, he thinks the Defund the Police movement is a "very poor initiative" and that he, "understands the grassroots of this, to some degree, are talking about social services coming in, rather than police handling certain calls. However, the reality of it is, out there on the streets... they understand that there is a safety component before those people who have the proper training can go in and do the treatment. We always have to render any situation safe first and we're not going to get around that; we're going to potentially put people in danger on some of these calls if they're not trained to handle the call the way the police would. Also, there is a lot of misinformation in the community. We have social workers that work at every one of our stations that when they see a mental health call, they immediately open up a caseload with the Department of Behavioral Health on that person. They immediately start offering services and track that person to make sure that if they don't have medication, for instance, they can keep them out of jail and keep them acting appropriately, so they don't keep having the same problem over and over again. And I think that if the public... or even our legislatures, see that we are making herculean efforts to try to help these people, that there probably wouldn't be as much fervor in the defunding of police base."

KVCR's Jonathan Linden also discussed with the Sheriff how the department is currently working on getting officer body cameras. You can learn more about Sheriff Dicus and the San Bernardino County Sheriff at wp.sbcounty.gov/sheriff.

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