OC Sheriff Sandra Hutchens’ Statement on SB 54
SANTA ANA, Ca. (Oct. 5, 2017) – Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens released the following statement reference the signing of SB54:
“Approval of SB 54 presents California law enforcement with a significant challenge. Restrictions on our ability to communicate with federal authorities will hinder current collaborative efforts to remove serious offenders from our community. This law is inconsistent with widely accepted best practices of open communication amongst all levels of law enforcement.
Unfortunately, as Sheriff I must comply with the State’s new law. Based on case law and direction from legal counsel, a Sheriff is responsible for following all State statutes unless they are formally ruled unconstitutional by a court. Until a statute is ruled against, it is presumed to be constitutional and thus law enforcement is obliged to follow the provision. While I strongly disagree with the law and believe it to be poor public policy, l am compelled to abide by the decision of our legislature and Governor.
The new law prohibits certain communications, but not all cooperation is restricted. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department remains committed to cooperating fully with federal authorities in all areas where the Sheriff has discretion. The department’s objective is to work with federal authorities to remove serious offenders from our community. My goal is to ensure a tragedy like the Kate Stienle murder does not occur in Orange County.
To that end, OCSD will be developing new protocols that will maintain operational continuity and communication in a manner consistent with SB 54 and public safety needs. Currently OCSD provides ICE with notification of the pending release of such offenders through our participation in the Department of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program and in compliance with the State’s TRUTH and TRUST acts. SB 54 will prevent us from continuing to formally participate in 287(g). SB 54 becomes law on January 1st. Between now and the first of the year we will be working with federal authorities to develop protocols that are both SB 54 compliant and successful in providing federal law enforcement with the access they need to keep serious offenders off our streets. SB 54’s provisions make success challenging as it requires bureaucratic processes that are not ideal, but we will work through these political hurdles in order to keep our community safe.”