Approximately 11 years ago, then undersheriff Carlos Bolanos was detained as part of an FBI investigation into a prostitution ring in Clark County, Nevada. Also detained was then sheriff Greg Munks. Although an initial news report located Bolanos in the brothel with Munks, later reports indicated he was outside the entire time.
Munks maintained that he made a mistake and that he thought it was a legitimate business that provided massage and apologized publicly for his lack of judgment. Bolanos said he was never inside the building.
Every description of the location reveals a horrid situation. It was clearly a brothel, in decrepit condition, and had prostitutes there from other countries. An FBI report on the investigation provided to the Daily Journal reveals there was likely a juvenile involved.
Clearly, there was a significant lapse of judgment in both Bolanos and Munks being at the location, with Munks inside during the raid. This was a big mistake.
Munks is not running for election. Bolanos is. Anyone who believes that the decision to be at the location, albeit outside, is reason enough to not vote for Bolanos is justified. If anyone chooses not to believe Bolanos, they too are justified.
Bolanos said he was never inside the building. We believe him. We also believe there was a lapse of judgment in agreeing to go with Munks to that location. However, voters face a choice in this election as to who they want to run the Sheriff’s Office and we must weigh all the facts and qualifications to determine our recommendation as to who would do that most effectively.
Running against Bolanos is Mark Melville, a deputy within the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office who has had a long, varied and itinerant career in both law enforcement and city management. He has been city manager of two tiny Central Valley cities — Gustine and Livingston, the latter of which has a current population of 13,000. While Melville has strong positions on what is wrong with the Sheriff’s Office — too much overtime, poor morale — he has very few solid suggestions aside from a full review of every division and to redefine the training and hiring process. While both can yield some positive results, it does not seem to be enough of a solid plan. Melville said he decided to run because he felt voters deserved a choice, and that is to be commended. He also has the requisite experience on paper, but has not managed an organization even close to the size of the Sheriff’s Office. Bolanos currently oversees 800 employees and a $250 million budget — the approximate equivalent of a 100,000 population city.
Bolanos has also proved to be adept at contending with the budget, though the office is currently contending with an understaffing issue similar to many other organizations in this high-cost area. Bolanos is currently mandating one weekly shift of overtime per worker deputy, which is not a long-term solution but reasonable in the short term, while also keeping under budget. This is a skill learned over time managing a large organization both in the Sheriff’s Office as appointed sheriff and undersheriff and as Redwood City police chief before that.
Bolanos has also emphasized the need for crisis intervention training for patrol, rebuilt the firing range at no cost to the county, and expanded the Sheriff’s Activities League. SAL has proven to be effective in not only keeping youth out of trouble after school but also establishing a connection between them and the deputies serving the communities. It has been particularly effective in the North Fair Oaks community, known for its working class Latino families.
Bolanos has also been a strong advocate for maintaining strong ties to the Latino community in light of concern about the current presidential administration’s policy shift when it comes to immigration and California’s Senate Bill 54. Not only has the Sheriff’s Office provided bridge outreach for immigrants to services but Bolanos has spent countless hours since the 2016 presidential election ameliorating concerns about the office’s policy on how it contends with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests. Bolanos said he maintains the policy that the Sheriff’s Office will not hold inmates after release for ICE agents and actually supported SB 54 as modifications were made in the legislation’s later stages to define the violent and dangerous felonies that would call for ICE contact. Bolanos also uses public safety as a guiding principal and believes the more comfort the populace feels in reporting crimes, the better the overall community is in being safe.
While an organization such as the Sheriff’s Office can always use improvement, we do not believe it would benefit from Melville taking the reins. We do think Melville has brought up some interesting points and Bolanos would benefit from heeding them as he begins his first official term.
And while the incident in Nevada will forever be a mark against the office, Bolanos has proven to be a serious, stable and effective manager when it comes to its primary mission — ensuring the safety of the community. Of the two candidates running, he deserves your vote.