SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Jim Cooper took the oath to serve the communities of Sacramento County as sheriff on the morning of Dec. 16, becoming the 37th person to hold the position.
He won the position in the June primary election when he received more votes than his sole opponent Jim Barnes, an undersheriff who was endorsed by the previous sheriff Scott Jones.
Cooper most recently served as State Assemblymember, representing Elk Grove, Galt and surrounding communities of the 9th Assembly District.
He was also the mayor and a city council member in Elk Grove for 15 years. Before that, he served in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, where he reached the position of captain.
After swearing in as the new sheriff at a ceremony at Sacramento State, he took some time to talk about the key issues he hopes to tackle, mainly the plan to expand the Main Jail and issues related to the country’s rising unhoused population.
As he begins this new chapter, he acknowledges that law enforcement has changed since he was last in it.
Most recently, the sheriff’s office and county has been criticized for the Main Jail expansion project, which is estimated to cost more than $460 million.
“What was once compliant is not compliant anymore and that’s the physical layout of the jail,” Cooper said.
“Sacramento’s a city of 1.5 to 1.8 million. You’ve got 70 activities that are very loud and very noisy,” he continued.
After spending time as a lawmaker, Cooper says he isn’t happy with how the state is responding to try and solve the problems that have led to thousands of people without a home.
“As a state, we spent over $20 million on homelessness and it’s gotten worse. That’s troubling,” he said.
“I have seen people come into the jail and get normal on medication. That should not have to happen in jail. We have got to have a facility for people dealing with mental illness or crisis to do that,” he continued.
As an Assemblymember, Cooper wrote bills to try and protect communities that experienced racial hate crimes.
Now as sheriff, he says he will focus on keeping all of Sacramento County safe.
“It is my vision, as a person of color, I want to let them know where I stand at and what I want done. But at the end of the day, it’s about calls for service and where the crime is and you have to protect the public,” he declared.