Editor’s note: This is the first of two profiles on candidates running for San Joaquin County Sheriff in the June 5 election.
San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore became eligible for retirement more than six years ago.
But rather than walking away from the top law enforcement post in San Joaquin County and into a life of leisure, Moore has thrown his hat into the ring to run for a fourth-term as the county’s top lawman, despite the ongoing challenges that have been stacking up ever since he took the post in 2006.
It all comes down to a campaign promise.
According to Moore, one of the things that he ran on when he first sought the position of Sheriff – building a new jail to serve San Joaquin County – initially seemed like it was going to happen during his first term but ended up being sidelined and eventually scrapped as the collapse of the housing market dried up discretionary funds and decimated any available budget space to make his campaign goal become a reality.
Now, he says, the funding is in place to construct the facility that he’s been chasing for almost 12 years and he’s armed with a plan that will allow for the new facility to be staffed with existing personnel – all he needs is the blessing of voters to extend his time and make sure the vision is realized.
“That’s something that I wanted to get done, and it’s something I would like to see through,” Moore said. “The money is there and we have plans to provide the staffing that is necessary to make the project work, so I’m hoping that voters will consider that when they make their decision.”
Started with department as
correction officer in 1982
The Southern California native, 62, first came to San Joaquin County in 1982 to be closer to his wife’s hometown of Linden. After working for several law enforcement agencies in the Fresno and Oxnard areas, took a job in the custody unit at the San Joaquin County Jail as a correctional officer.
He didn’t know that it would be where he would spend the majority of his adult life working up through the ranks and towards three terms as the elected Sheriff of a county that has been steadily growing since he arrived.
But that time at the helm hasn’t necessarily been easy for Moore, especially during his last two terms as he oversaw and accommodated the AB109 realignment program mandated by the State of California after a Supreme Court ruling – which put convicted felons with less than five years on their sentence into county facilities and required those convicted of non-violent, non-sexual and non-serious crimes to serve out their sentences on a new form of supervised release.
That change, coupled with the slow recovery from the budget crash and a changing political landscape in California, have made things challenging. That challenge is alive and well today for Moore as he manages the evolving immigration issue in California, constantly monitoring what is happening on a Federal level and what sorts of bills are working themselves through the State of California that may affect local residents.
Making sure deputies
do the right thing on
immigration & criminals
At the end of the day, Moore said, none of his deputies sign up to work as frontline immigration enforcers, but at the same time they want to ensure that the criminals amongst the undocumented immigrants aren’t taking advantage of the communities in which they reside – including the immigrant communities themselves.
“Going around and asking people for their paperwork isn’t what we’re here to do, but we do want to make sure that the criminal element is addressed and that the proper authorities are notified,” Moore said, reiterating that he doesn’t make the laws that he has sworn to enforce, even when he doesn’t necessarily agree with them. “Sometimes it’s the immigrant communities themselves that are targeted by these criminals, and we want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing.”
And if voters were to grant him another term in office, he would have the unique challenge of instituting the separation of the Sheriff’s office and the Coroner’s office – both of which he has been duly-elected to manage and operate. Earlier this week the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted to move ahead with a consultant’s suggestion to separate the two and instead replace the Coroner’s office with an independent Medical Examiner after allegations surfaced that Moore interfered with the investigations of forensic pathologists.
How he will plan on making that separation has yet to be determined – he said that he does plan on pursuing the “coroner’s inquest” model that he suggested as a compromise before the board’s formal decision to separate the two divisions – it will likely take the collaboration of multiple San Joaquin County agencies working together to pull off.
Moore says that while there are hiccups from time-to-time, he’s proud of the fact that he has strong working relationships with a number of different county agencies that work independent of the Sheriff’s Office but overlap in certain areas.
“I think that we’re working collaboratively and share some of the same goals, but those aren’t always lock-step,” Moore said. “Like anything else, I’m sure that there are expectations that they have of me, just as I have of them, and those expectations aren’t always going to be met.
“I think that we’re working well together for the betterment of the county and for the residents that call San Joaquin County home, and I would like to maintain those relationships.”
Serves as head of state
Moore currently lives in Linden with his wife – a native of the rural community east of Stockton – and together they have two grown children. When he isn’t working, Moore likes to unwind with physical activity and community involvement with one of the two service groups of which he is a member – the Linden Lions Club and the Tracy Rotary. Earlier this month Moore was sworn in by Governor Jerry Brown as the President of the California State Sheriff’s Association, and he believes that work will benefit San Joaquin County residents by networking and collaborating with other agencies that may be facing similar issues.
He has received endorsements from Congressman Jeff Denham, four of the five San Joaquin County Supervisors, the Sheriffs of Stanislaus, Contra Costa, Sacramento and Alameda Counties, three former Stockton Police Chiefs, the majority of the Manteca City Council and the San Joaquin Valley Farm Bureau Federation, in addition to private citizens and community leaders.
“I believe in our election system, and I have always served at the pleasure of our public,” Moore said. “If they feel like I have not met the needs they have set forth, then I’m more than happy to accept that decision – I feel like I have done everything that I can do to leave a positive impact on the community, and I would like to continue that for another four years.”