Sheriff's deputies in Santa Clara, California issued a vote of no confidence on Monday to their commanding officer in the midst of her re-election campaign.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that the Deputy Sheriffs' Association (DSA), along with the Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), refused to support Sheriff Laurie Smith in a press conference announcing their endorsement of her challenger, Sheriff's Capt. Kevin Jensen, in the June 2014 election.
Smith, the state's first female sheriff, was first elected in 1998 and retained her seat in 2010. The DSA's announcement on Monday marked the first time in 35 years that it did not endorse an incumbent sheriff for re-election. DSA president Dennis Moser said at the press conference that 235 of the group's 412 members voted for Jensen, compared to 12 for Smith, while the CPOA did not place Smith on the ballot after endorsing Jensen unanimously.
Moser also said deputies were concerned over "lack of staffing, a lack of morale [and] the inability for our people to go ahead and speak without fear of retaliation from the office itself."
KNTV-TV reported that Smith criticized the vote in a memo to CPOA President Lance Scimeca, calling it "old Soviet-style," and told the station in a phone interview, "No small group of special interests can hire or fire a sheriff," while defending her department's performance. The station also reported that a consultant for Smith also called DSA leadership "Keystone Kops."
Watch KNTV's report on the burgeoning dispute between deputies and Sheriff Smith, aired Monday, below.
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