Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco was sworn in last week to his second term as the top law enforcement official for the county. Due to a new state law shifting elections for district attorney and sheriff to align with presidential elections, Bianco’s term has been extended an additional two years. He will be able to serve through 2028.
Bianco was first elected in 2018, ousting Sheriff Stan Sniff with the help of massive spending by the deputy sheriffs union and other police unions. Bianco was asked to run by the deputy union, which clashed with Sniff over body-camera policies, among other things.
As sheriff, Bianco has failed to fulfill a 2018 campaign vow to bring down contract costs to cities that contract with the sheriff’s department.
Last year, the Board of Supervisors approved Bianco’s request to raise the contract rates by 4%. The chief driver of the rate increases? According to the county, “pension obligations and salary increases” for the deputies.
Rising contract rates to cities means less money for other city services and a higher risk of local tax increases to make up the difference.
In 2021, a coalition of community groups sent a letter to California Attorney General Rob Bonta asking for an investigation into the department. They cited, among other things, high rates of deputies shooting at members of the public and high rates of deaths in Riverside County custody.
The Desert Sun recently reported that 2022 saw the most deaths in Riverside County jails in recent history, further noting that “the sheriff’s department failed to report several deaths this year to the Department of Justice within the 10-day period required by law and that several reports that were made by the department contained inaccurate information.”
Also last year, the county settled a federal civil rights lawsuit over a bizarre, warrantless raid of an elderly Lake Elsinore couple.
Despite all this, he cruised to re-election. Despite plenty of politicking by some of his critics, no serious challenger or campaign emerged.
Bianco has remained a favorite among many county residents for his tough-talking posture on COVID and criminal justice reform. In his second term, for the sake of Riverside County residents, we hope Bianco can set the theatrics aside and focus on running a competent department.