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Put sheriff’s job into perspective 

Sheriff Pat Hedges responded without anger or defensiveness to the New Times reporter regarding the use of excessive force by county deputies (“Clearing the air,� Jan. 27-Feb. 3). I discovered that there is a reason for that calm demeanor.

The New Times reporter tells of the December 1997 incident when Donal Schneider was “pulled over for improper registration tags … placed under arrest and pepper-sprayed.� No other information is given regarding Schneider’s behavior, which gives the reader the impression that the deputies are arrest-happy storm troopers pulling innocent citizens over for sadistic pleasures.

To put the eight-year history of the three in-custody deaths and the one excessive force settlement into perspective, I checked with a records keeper to see how many arrests were made by SLO County sheriff’s deputies in the last eight years. The number of average arrests was over 3,000 per month times 96 months, which equals 316,800 arrests. The deputies, however, are not “arrest-happy.� The average “Call for service� is over 48,000 a month times 96 months, which equals 4,699,584 calls. Obviously the three deaths were atypical and involved unusual circumstances.

Sheriff Hedges knows his officers are doing a superb job, and that given the number of calls each month they show remarkable restraint and good judgment.

 

Norm Jackson

Santa Margarita

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