Candidate profile: Mark Adams

Mark Adams - Running for Sheriff.  photo Jayson Mellom 3-23-10
Mark Adams - Running for Sheriff. photo Jayson Mellom 3-23-10 The Tribune

Mark Adams said his perspective — as a deputy sheriff for 22 years, until recently working the night shift at the north station in Templeton — will help him lead the department.

“I see what the top bosses’ decisions do and how that affects” the rest of the department, said Adams, 52. As sheriff, he would stay in touch with his deputies, and the public, by putting a vest on and patrolling in his free time. And he expects his command staff to do the same.

“We’re short-handed right now,” he said. “We’re jockeying people’s schedules, forcing the line-level guys out there and the people in the jail to do more with less.”

Adams said he would increase the number of deputies on the street by requiring upper-level employees, such as sergeants and commanders, to take reports and handle calls for service, freeing up deputies to spend more time on patrol.

Adams said he’s proved his leadership capabilities through the commendations he received in the Army as well as through informally helping younger deputies learn the ropes.

The employees “deserve someone who is always going to be their champion, they want a leader who is going to lead by example and when times are tough is going to stand up for them.”

Q&A: Four questions for Mark Adams

Q. There have been some high-profile examples in recent years of problems within the Sheriff’s Department that have caused image problems and led the public to question the leadership of the department. How would you restore public confidence in the department? How would you change the culture within the department?

A. It is imperative to have a sheriff who understands he is a public servant. I would return the “IA” Internal Affairs position. Certain information cannot be released due to county policy, POBOR (Peace Officer Bill of Rights) and other employee rights. An employee’s mistake should be a learning experience for all. I will release a statement every four months detailing what type of disciplinary action was taken and the reason for (it). A sheriff who leads from the front, is publicly visible and has formed a positive relationship with the media is the key to changing how the public perceives the department.

Q. What do you view as the top crime issue facing the unincorporated areas of the county and how would you address it?

A. No matter what the crime, every citizen wants to know he or she is important. The citizens expect and should receive timely, professional service by the Sheriff’s Department. With the present economy and fewer deputies on the street, it is important for the sheriff to set the example and let department members know they are not above doing the job of those below them. If it requires command staff and supervisors to patrol the streets, take reports, make arrests or work inside the jail, that is what will be done. We will, “lead by example, lead by doing” under my leadership.

Q. If asked to cut 10 percent of your budget, how would you do that while still maintaining current levels of service?

A. The last item to cut should always be personnel. I will review the cost savings of owning, rather than leasing, patrol cars from the county. I will explore putting out to public bid many of the services provided by county services. I will allow more creativity and flexibility in our scheduling to reduce overtime even more. I will add solar power wherever possible to reduce our $435,000 electric bill. I will seek input and ideas from county citizens and department members. I will sit down with the other candidates, put their ideas to paper and begin a program to implement them.

Q. If elected, how would you establish a relationship with other elected leaders, especially the Board of Supervisors? What specifically would you do to improve relations with the board?

A. I have and I will continue to use my public servant attitude when working or dealing with other elected leaders and the Board of Supervisors. I will set aside politics, never allowing them to sway my judgment. Personal ego and agendas will not be tolerated when making decisions that affect the citizens of this county. I will seek their support and ideas to make the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department the best in the nation. I will remain true to our county motto, “Not For Ourselves Alone.” I will be a public servant, not a politician.