I am JoAnn Walker and I am running to be your next Alameda County Sheriff. There is a great deal of work that needs to be done to effectively reduce crime while also building public trust, truly protecting and serving the residents of the county and safeguarding officer well-being. As a 25-year veteran of law enforcement, my career has given me keen insight into strategies that work and strategies that look good on paper but fall apart on the street. It is my hope to take my knowledge, perspective and mentoring skills and use them to refocus the Alameda County’s Sheriff Office (ACSO).
ACSO is charged with a complex balance of responsibility interwoven into the fabric of our communities’ daily lives — ranging from the crime laboratory to the coroner’s bureau to the county jail. The ACSO is who we turn to in times of large-scale emergency and crises and is even at the forefront of providing fish and game enforcement.
So, it is not lost on me how momentous it is that I — a Black woman — have taken on the charge to fix and reform how justice is served in the county. I know all too well how the wheels of justice have not worked for our BIPOC and other minority and disenfranchised communities. I know the legacy of ACSO — from its Urban Shield program to its historic ties with white supremacy or to its over-criminalization of our Black and Brown youth. I am taking a big step of faith by entering this race that typically is uncontested. I have faith that voters in Alameda County are ready for a change in how our community is policed.
We need to address the long-standing issues within the ACSO. Whether it is the public health and safety issues in our County jail or the problematic partnership with ICE or even its embarrassing backlog of untested rape kits, it is going to take a leader with tenacity, the will to do better and integrity.
My platform has three major principles (Accountability • Reform • Community — ARC) that help address the systemic problems in the ACSO. With hard work, determination and cooperation we can make the changes that are needed.
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), one of the top reforms that defines 21st century policing is building trust and legitimacy by creating policy and oversight. It is critical that the ACSO be at the vanguard of this change. The ACSO has also been failing its fiscal transparency – so much so that California lawmakers have called for an intensive audit to root out the budget mismanagement. It is of the utmost importance to open the books and realign the budget. I will work to:
Changing the culture of law enforcement is a monumental task – and one that even from the top down will be difficult. But reforming the operational systems in ACSO will have a major impact on policing outcomes. It is abundantly clear that our policing workforce needs more training. Given my years of work in Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) and Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) I know the benefits of continuing education and training to curb disparities in policing. I will work to:
The community distrust of law enforcement is nothing new to many communities in the United States – especially in communities of color. There is no more hiding the truth. We must work within our public safety department and with our community partners to revamp the system and build trust again for the good work that law enforcement provides. We need community collaboration with the ACSO and its bureaus to make sure their communities are treated fairly in the criminal justice system.
Over the last four years – the Alameda County Sheriff department worked directly with ICE in the deportation of 540 people in the county. How are we going to collaborate in good faith with immigrant communities if they fear that cooperation could lead to deportation?
Many of the steps in the work of reform and accountability will help move us forward. But I will work also to: