San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has called for the resignation of Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith amidst new details on an inmate abuse settlement highlighting a history of misconduct by the department on her watch, and her behavior relating to an ongoing bribery investigation directly involving her office.
In a news conference at mid-day on Monday, Mayor Liccardo cited an accumulation of factors leading to the announcement, including the County documents that came to light over the last week around the settlement case of inmate Andrew Hogan; her instructions to other police departments inbound to County jails to turn off their body worn cameras, a practice ended only recently after multiple complaints by other police jurisdictions; and in October of last year, Sheriff Smith’s decision to decline to cooperate with a grand jury investigation of her own staff over bribery charges relating to her own reelection. He also noted repeated mismanagement of the County Jail, citing multiple incidents over the past years relating to inmate injuries and deaths including the cases of Hogan as well as Michael Tyree, Juan Martin Nunez and others, and a ‘pay to play’ culture cultivated in the Sheriff’s office.
Mayor Liccardo did not comment on any criminal investigation. He said the County will consider the matter tomorrow. Supervisors have called to move forward with further investigations to bring more information comes to light, Mayor Liccardo said.
He noted the San Jose Mercury News editorial board has attributed Sheriff Smith’s behavior to corruption or incompetence. While Mayor Liccardo declined to cast his opinion in the matter, leaving it to residents, he said in either case, she should resign.
“I don’t in any way cast dispersions on the deputies in the Sheriff’s office who are working very hard every day to keep us safe; my concern is entirely with her leadership,” Liccardo said. “The County will be making steps. We could all save a lot of time if we had the Sheriff simply resign.”
The calls follow news of eight-figure payouts in civil settlements and verdicts, and some $450 million in improvements mandated in relation to the inmate injury cases. On Thursday, Supervisors Joe Simitian and Otto Lee called for an investigation into the Sheriff’s office and the public release of records relating to Andrew Hogan case, the Mercury News reported.
Earlier this summer, an Apple security executive was cleared of charges alleging his involvement in a concealed weapons permit pay-to-play scheme with Sheriff Smith’s office, but other charges against two officials in the Sheriff’s office, among others, are still pending.
Sheriff Smith has spent her entire professional career with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. She has served as Sheriff since 1998, and was re-elected for four additional terms. Sheriff Smith has received numerous honors and awards for her public service, and has an outstanding record in the California law enforcement community, according to the County Sheriff’s website. She is a past president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association and is a past Woman of the Year recipient by the California State Assembly.