Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Tuesday, March 22, 2022 @ 3:06 p.m.
Del Norte Supes Contemplate Appointing Unopposed Sheriff's Candidate, Garrett Scott, to Position Early
Lt. Daniel Schneck told county supervisors he’s willing to do “whatever it takes” to keep the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office running, including ceding the sheriff's duties early to the sole candidate seeking the office.
Schneck, currently the DNSO’s most senior officer, said he wouldn’t be opposed to the Board of Supervisors appointing Garrett Scott sheriff before the June 7 election “if that’s something he wanted.”
“My duty is to the citizens of Del Norte County, to my department and to the Board, and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep the department running and also make for a smooth transition when Garrett comes into office,” Schneck told supervisors on Tuesday. “I support him coming into office and I want to make a smooth transition for him.”
Board Chairman Gerry Hemmingsen proposed the idea of appointing Scott to the Del Norte County Sheriff position before the June 7 primary.
Scott, a former Crescent City Police Department lieutenant, became the sole candidate running for the position after both DNSO Sgt. Enrique Ortega and the now-former appointed sheriff, Randy Waltz, bowed out of the race.
Waltz faces felony charges of perjury, voter fraud and election fraud in connection with allegedly listing a false address on his California Voter Registration form. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously accepted his resignation as sheriff.
After accepting Waltz’s resignation, District 2 Supervisor Valerie Starkey proposed to have Schneck take on the duties of sheriff until Scott is elected in June. But instead of waiting until January to swear Scott in, which is what would happen under normal circumstances, to give him until right after the primary election before having him assume office, Starkey said.
“According to the internal policy of the sheriff’s department, it’s sheriff, undersheriff and then lieutenant, is their chain of command. My understanding is Lt. Schneck is the person most senior,” Starkey said. “And so, my proposal would be that we give Mr. Scott, who’s going to be our next sheriff — he’s not opposed (and) he’s qualified — but give him until June, let him get his paperwork in order and in the interim keep Lt. Schneck as first in command over there.”
District 3 Supervisor Chris Howard agreed with Starkey’s proposal, but said one of his main concerns is a lack of capacity in the sheriff’s office. Howard pointed to several recent retirements and asked if those retirees would be willing to come back to take on the administrative role and be a liaison between the county and the department temporarily.
“Garrett’s going to come in there and he’s going to be faced with a learning curve,” Howard said. “If we surround him with a lot of love from this Board, from our county counsel’s office and from our CAO and whatever departments like maintenance who have access and constant dealings with them day-in and day-out, to give that sheriff’s department as much success as possible.”
Howard also brought up efforts by the Crescent City-Del Norte Taxpayers Association and county resident Linda Sutter to repeal Measure R, the county’s 1 cent sales tax voters approved in 2020. That repeal is expected to be on the ballot in November.
According to Schneck, the DNSO faces a staffing crisis. Pointing out that department staff received raises as a result of Measure R, Schneck said he knew of three deputies who would leave if those raises went away.
“If that happens, I’ll have no choice but to shut down shifts. There would be no 24-hour coverage anymore,” Schneck told Howard. “We’re on the verge of that anyways. I’m trying everything I can do to keep the lights on 24 hours a day.”
Schneck pointed to the Crescent City Police Department’s recently approved $10,000 hiring bonuses and $40,000 hiring bonuses through the Redding Police Department. Humboldt County is offering $10,000 incentives for correctional officers and $15,000 incentives for deputies, Schneck said.
“We need to look at, not only a recruitment incentive, but a retention incentive,” he said. “We’ve got dedicated deputies there and correctional officers and dispatchers and everybody that has stuck it out through thick and thicker. They’re very dedicated to their community and to our department and we owe it to them to keep them here — to keep them from going elsewhere.”
The Board of Supervisors can appoint Scott to the Del Norte County sheriff position before the June 7 election, County Clerk-Recorder Alissia Northrup told the Wild Rivers Outpost. He would still have to be voted into office, she said.