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Posted: 2/16/2006 3:49:30 PM EDT
Airman shooting focus: Perceptions of sheriff's deputies often vary
By Kenneth Todd Ruiz, Staff Writer

Sheriff's deputies in San Bernardino County are considerate professionals. Or trigger-happy mavericks. Or just men and women doing their best at a difficult and dangerous job.

It all depends on whom you talk to.

The relationship between law enforcement officers and the public they are sworn to protect can become complicated by incidents that bring officers into scrutiny, such as the shooting of Elio Carrion in Chino last week.

Lyndie Stuard of Rialto said she is concerned about the possibility of deputies patrolling her community. Rialto City Council voted in September to replace its police department with sheriff's services.

"Sometimes, they seem like they think it's the Old West, but this is Rialto," she said. "We have jobs, we work, but they treat everyone like criminals."

Sheriff's spokeswoman Jody Miller says, however, that community residents should be reassured that deputies are looking out for their safety.

"It's important for people within the communities to feel a level of security and protection," she said. "Obviously, we would like the residents within that community to take security in knowing the deputies go out every day on their job with the goal in mind to protect people from harm."

Richard Rodriguez of Bloomington agrees with that and says deputies are "just doing their jobs" and have to think about their safety.

But, in the eyes of his friend Madeleine Cano, also of Bloomington, deputies frequently engage in harassment and racial profiling.

"They just like to harass people, especially the Mexicans," she said. "Look at what happened to that poor guy in Chino."

One sheriff's deputy, who asked not to be identified, said his already perilous job is made more difficult by a distrustful public.

"People out on the streets are so scared of sheriffs right now," he said. The shooting of Carrion, who was unarmed, could make criminals more violent toward officers, he said.

"They're probably going to try to shoot us when they normally wouldn't have tried," the deputy said.

Jim Erwin, a spokesman for the deputies' union, the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association, said it doesn't make a difference.

"You can't be thinking that way," he said. "Felons know what they're going to do ... deputies only react to the circumstances."

Miller also pointed to the department's mission of serving the community. From finger-printing children to raising money for charities, the department wants concerned residents to know deputies do more than enforce the law, Miller said.

She said that mission is reinforced by Sheriff Gary Penrod himself and is drilled into trainees.

Patrolling the country's largest county can be demanding for deputies.

Erwin, who was in the department for 15 years, said officers are often on their own and far from help.

"You're it," he said. "In most cases, you're going to be by yourself."

Even at night, Erwin said, deputies work alone and backup can be 45 minutes away.

Because of this autonomy, deputies must be independent and ready to resolve situations on their own, he said.

"You're required to make split-second decisions," he said. "Routinely, you walk into open doors, unlocked doors with a flashlight and your gun out. You're by yourself. You're doing the job."

Erwin said any concerns in the community are "unfounded." Although the shooting of Carrion would "be judged on its own merits," he said the community need look only as far as the department's record.

He said it's been more than 15 years since the department dealt with significant controversy over an officer-involved shooting, and that any rifts with the community would heal in time.

But some say the department has a troubling pattern.

A lawyer who has handled cases of police misconduct in San Bernardino County said the department has "a reputation for using a lot of force."

"There's several examples of them using force at the ends of pursuits," said John Burton, who practices law in Pasadena. "They also have an example of hurting people in their custody."

Burton has represented the family of a man shot to death in 2004 by a Fontana police officer and a man injured at West Valley Detention Center in 2000. Sheriff's deputies act as corrections officers in the facility.

Ivory John Webb, the deputy who shot Carrion at the end of a high-speed chase last week, was one of seven deputies named in an unsuccessful lawsuit Burton filed over the 2000 incident.

"There's an `us-against-them' mentality with the police, that anything is OK in the name of officer safety, and that's really not all right, because they need to respect the rights of people they're dealing with."

Miller said the department is working to address concerns in the community regarding Carrion's shooting.

"There is an investigation pending, and it's of the utmost importance that clarification be given to the questions that are out there," she said.

But even some within the department are skeptical the investigation will placate the community.

The threat of a civil lawsuit, said the anonymous deputy, would deter the county from making a good-faith effort to investigate the shooting.

"All shootings in San Bernardino County are `good' shootings, because if the department admits fault, that means the difference between paying out $5 million or $50 million," the deputy said.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office has not filed charges against any on-duty officer involved in a shooting in at least 30 years.

www.dailybulletin.com/news/ci_3485620
Link Posted: 2/16/2006 3:50:42 PM EDT
Very distrubing quotes:

"Miller said the department is working to address concerns in the community regarding Carrion's shooting.

"There is an investigation pending, and it's of the utmost importance that clarification be given to the questions that are out there," she said.

But even some within the department are skeptical the investigation will placate the community.

The threat of a civil lawsuit, said the anonymous deputy, would deter the county from making a good-faith effort to investigate the shooting."
Link Posted: 2/17/2006 12:24:20 AM EDT
Depends on where they are, this article is not very fully developed.

San Bernardino County is larger in area than the 7 smallest states and bigger than the 3 smallest combined. and there is a hell of a lot of nothing out there in the Mojave Desert. 45 minutes for back-up to arrive is probably a conserrvative estimate, I'ld say there are locations where it would be a few hours.

Other areas probably rank right down there with some of the worst urban areas. Rialto, parts of Bloomington, San Bernardino itself. Chino is mixed. IIRC the stop and shooting occurred in Pomona which is in LA County. The only time I went armed open carry was when I had a night exercise out at the Reserve Center in Pomona.

As far as I can tell where the whole thing went down is not a part of Chino or Pomona I would care to be caught in at night.

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