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Sacramento Sheriff Takes on City Council Over Police Force

SACRAMENTO -- The shots fired before police tape went up along Sacramento's Del Paso Boulevard last month may be the first, but not the loudest in what's developing into a war of words and wills.

On one side - Sacramento's city council.

On the other? The city's own police force and Sacramento county's sheriff - who's blasting the city on the police department's behalf.

Sheriff Scott Jones wouldn't speak about the matter on camera Wednesday, but his written words were shouting, "it pains me to see the way the Sacramento city council and mayor treat their police department."

That quote came from one of his social medial accounts.

He also wrote a newspaper op-ed harshly critiquing the council for ordering the release of body cam video from that Del Paso incident while police are still investigating a recovering Armani Lee.

They say Lee shot at them several times before they fired back.

"First of all, I think we did absolutely the right thing. The city council, the city and mayor made a commitment to the community about transparency," said Sacramento's district five councilman Jay Schenirer.

That commitment to increased transparency became a flash point in Sacramento after the public protested problems with video releases from another officer-involved shooting along Del Paso Boulevard - the one in which officers shot Joseph Mann 18 times, killing him.

That inspired changes to city policy requiring that kind of video from such to be released in 30 days.

The department wanted more time with the Armani Lee case, but Tuesday Mayor Steinberg said 'No.'

Tim Davis, president of the city's police union, was front and center Tuesday on another point of tension with the city - the exodus of officers over low pay and planned retention bonuses to stop the bleeding.

Wednesday he could only comment by phone about his agreement with the sheriff on the video issue.

"It sets a horrible precedent that we don't care about whether we can prosecute cases. We don't care about whether we can complete those investigations. We just want transparency at all costs," he said.

"I'm...I'm pretty angry right now."

When it comes to how most of the force feels about what the sheriff's done, Davis said, "I think the sheriff uh... summarized the feeling of a lot of police officers pretty well in his article."

Jones' own employment operations became an issue in his failed congressional bid with accusations of sexual harassment by deputies, which make some raise eyebrows at his finger-pointing.

"I'm not going to comment on their employment practices and I would wish that they wouldn't comment on ours," said Schenirer.

Wednesday the mayor was not available to comment about the sheriff's actions.

As far as the video at the heart of Sheriff Jones' defense of the Sacramento Police Department, city officers are still preparing it for release despite the mayor's directive for that to be done immediately.