The Weekly's Head Count of the 48 New Faces Who Want to Be Your Next Sheriff

New Faces
The Weekly’s head count of the 48 folks who want to be your next sheriff

What’s that? You didn’t apply to become the next sheriff of Orange County? Why the hell not? Think about it: You’d get 4,000 happy-to-obey employees; an $800 million annual budget; and cars, trucks, motorcycles, planes, boats, helicopters, weapons, spy equipment galore, bodyguards and White House invitations. Did I mention the $200,000-per-year pay, the chick-magnet outfit with the cool badge, a pension designed for a god, taxpayer-paid $500-per-night hotel rooms and a stampede of new best friends?

Sure, being sheriff isn’t all fun, especially if you’re a twisted soul. Ask Mike Carona. His reign was more like that of a slick, egomaniacal Third World dictator than that of a cop—until FBI and IRS agents indicted him, his wife, his top mistress, two assistants and a drinking buddy last year on public corruption charges. In January, he resigned to focus on his upcoming trial. Now, the county’s Board of Supervisors seek to hire someone to serve the remaining two years of the ex-sheriff’s term.

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Who will they choose? Will they set aside cheap political considerations and go for competence? Will their choice restore much-needed dignity to the fine men and women of California’s second-largest sheriff’s department?

You didn’t step up, but 48 brave souls did. And what a cast of characters they are: pole-dancing cop, ex-Secret Service agent, electrician’s assistant, Homeland Security spook, lottery commissioner, social director, liquor-store owner, claims adjuster, telemarketer, shopping-mall security guard, salesmen, lots of retired folk, street cops, police chiefs, assistant sheriffs and a high-school English teacher.

Obviously, not all of them have a chance. A consultant recommended nine candidates (designated with double asterisks). Supervisors on Tuesday decided to interview these nine, but they could still add names to the list before the public interviews, which are scheduled for May 27. (Though none have indicated he or she would want to add to the list, I have a few suggestions for the board, indicated by single asterisks, just in case.)

Given our Carona nightmare, you might guess that all of the replacement candidates would be models of propriety—people who wouldn’t cry fake tears for television-news cameras, accept bribes, reward misconduct, value personal loyalty over skill in promotions, lie about their mothers, party with hoodlums, convert government vehicles into mobile sex pads, threaten political enemies, send risqué birthday cards to the wives of subordinates, ignore public complaints, shamelessly waste taxpayer funds, socialize with hookers, break long-established agreements, use highly trained deputies for inconsequential personal errands and attempt to date the wives of criminal suspects. Indeed, some of the applicants are outstanding: mature, honest and accomplished. But others? Well . . .

Here, in no particular order, is our list of the good, the bad and the downright ugly:

* K. Brian London *

Residence: St. Didier au Mt. d’Or, France

Current job:
Recently retired as executive director of France-based INTERPOL, the world’s largest police organization

Law-enforcement experience:
Supervisory special agent for Homeland Security, White House liaison officer, U.S. Customs director, Secret Service agent, CIA investigator and California Highway Patrolman

OC connection: Lived in Irvine for five years while in the Secret Service

Education: Claremont McKenna College (undergraduate), Pepperdine University (graduate)

Notable: Holds U.S. Government Secret, Top Secret, SCI and Q security clearances

Quotable: “The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has always been one of the best in my mind. Who wouldn’t want to be in charge of such an organization? The only thing to do is to make it even better.”

* * Ralph W. Martin * *

Residence: Coto de Caza

Current job: Los Angeles County sheriff’s commander

Number of employees supervised: More than 2,000

Law-enforcement experience: Began with the sheriff’s department in 1973 and rose through the ranks

Education: Cal State Los Angeles (undergraduate), Pepperdine University (graduate)

Notable: Challenged Carona in the 2006 election, oversees highly acclaimed police activity for one of the nation’s toughest gang regions

Quotable: More than a year before Carona’s FBI indictment, Martin blasted our sheriff’s ties to unsavory characters: “We can’t allow our law-enforcement personnel to be associated with known criminals.”

- Harold N. (Hal) Barker -

Residence: Camino

Current job: Retired

Law-enforcement experience: Sheriff of El Dorado County from 1997 until he retired in 2003; chief of police for the city of Folsom and assistant sheriff of San Mateo County

Education: Cal State LA (undergraduate), USC (graduate)

Claim to fame: Appointed to the California Lottery Commission by Governor Gray Davis in 2000

Notable: Began law-enforcement career in 1958

Controversy: Accepted weapons from a businessman, and then failed to file accurate public-disclosure reports about the gifts

Quotable: “Shame on us. We made a mistake,” Barker said in 1999 after his deputies fired a shotgun and tear gas inside the El Dorado County Jail in an unannounced, late-night, alleged “training exercise” that terrorized sleeping inmates. “It scares the hell out of them.”

- Robert H. Lewis Jr. -

Residence: Lake Elsinore

Current job: Unemployed after working three years as a social-development director and the previous five as an environmental-safety manager

Law-enforcement experience: 18 years as a police officer for an unspecified city

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