SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY — There’s a new sheriff in town and he says it’s time to get to work.
“Start putting plans in place so that we can hit the ground running,” said San Joaquin County Sheriff-elect Pat Withrow.
Withrow will officially take over the department and be sworn-in on Monday.
He says there are a lot of challenges to face when he takes office but his biggest challenge may be restoring the public’s trust in the department.
Withrow’s predecessor, Steve Moore, was ousted after the county’s two forensic pathologists quit, alleging Moore was interfering with their investigations as county coroner.
The allegations forced county leaders to create a new medical examiner’s office.
“We’re going to try to be as open and honest with the public and the media and we’re going to be very proactive in reaching out to the community and explaining why we do the things we do,” Withrow said. “And conversely, we’re going to listen to our citizens and listen to their concerns about our department and our interactions with them.”
Withrow says he also plans to address the department’s understaffing problem immediately.
“Currently we’re down about 93 total employees throughout the department, civilian and sworn. About 33 to 35 of those are patrol officers just alone,” he said.
One of his priorities will be to establish a new agricultural gang narcotics enforcement team to help fight crime.
“We’re going to go out and be very proactive and make sure that we impact crime before it hits our farmers in our outlying areas,” Withrow said.
But in addition to tackling the department’s challenges, Withrow promises to establish a true cold case unit and re-open the “Speed Freak Killers” case.
“If my child or loved one had been killed and hasn’t been found for years and years, I’d wish somebody would go out there and get me some closure. So that’s what I’m going to do for them,” Withrow expressed.