■ By Kyle Selby / Reporter
Speculation has abounded for weeks since Hemet Police Chief Dave Brown announced that he intends to retire by December and was mulling a run to unseat Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff in the 2018 election. No more need to speculate, because on Monday, Sept. 18, Brown officially announced his candidacy for the top cop spot in Riverside County.
Brown’s campaign also launched an official website and Facebook page, as well as a kick-off fundraiser scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 28.
“Riverside County deserves new leadership at the Sheriff’s Department. Morale is low, resources have been mismanaged, and public confidence has eroded. With my 30-year professional law enforcement career, I’m prepared to modernize our department, inspire and encourage staff, protect taxpayers and take politics out of the Sheriff’s Department,” wrote Brown in a message on the new website. “As Sheriff, I will keep our communities safe through the responsible use of tax dollars and by properly staffing our vital patrol stations to better serve all county residents. When public safety is at stake, we can’t afford to continue playing political games!”
Brown’s announcement controversially clashes with the aftermath of Measure U, the 62 percent voter-approved 1 percent sales tax increase for 10 years ($10 million annually), promising to pay for police protection and crime prevention services, fire prevention and suppression services, 911/paramedic services, other general municipal services and lawful public purposes of the city.
Since the passage of Measure U – of which Chief Brown was a very strong proponent and often campaigned in uniform – six police officers have either quit Hemet Police Department, retired or moved to other jurisdictions, while 18 have come on board, according to information received from the city. Interestingly, three of the new hires – all police officer trainees – have left the department. Two of the trainees left the department after a week of being hired.
Talk of Brown entering the race first began when he announced in an HPD Facebook post on Wednesday, July 26, that he planned to retire from HPD around the end of 2017. In the same announcement, he mentioned that he had been “called” to lead the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department come next election.
“I will work to support the seamless transfer of the office of Chief of Police to Deputy Chief Rob Webb, a 29-year law enforcement leader with an impeccable record and unwavering commitment to this community,” wrote Brown. “I also intend to assemble an exploratory committee of trusted police professionals, community leaders and close associates to explore the feasibility of running for the office of Riverside County Sheriff in June, 2018.”
“The people of Riverside County can no longer tolerate a Sheriff who repeatedly blames his deputies and the Board of Supervisors for his failure of leadership,” Brown continued in a press release on Monday. “It’s time to put people first again and take politics out of the Sheriff’s Department.”
Brown of course, is referring to his opponent in the upcoming election, Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff.
Sniff recently responded in an email to the Press Enterprise, “It is typical at election time to hear all manner of issues raised, both real and created out of whole cloth.
“Morale and public confidence in the department have endured,” he wrote. “For years, in fact, the Sheriff’s Department has worked cooperatively with the county, residents and other stakeholders to provide the strongest possible public safety while meeting each year’s spending limits.”
Brown will not only be running against Sniff come next June, but sheriff’s Lt. Chad Bianco, who previously ran against Sniff in 2014.
“By [Brown] entering as a third candidate, it shows there is an obvious need for change,” stated Bianco.