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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Former sheriff Ahern talks frankly about law enforcement today

Uploaded: Apr 13, 2023
Former Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern pulled few punches when talking with the Pleasanton Men’s Club this week.

Ahern, who served in the top job for 16 years before being defeated in his re-election bid by Commander Yesenia Sanchez last June. He expressed confidence that Sanchez and her team will serve the county and the department well. The department provides law enforcement for about 150,000 people in unincorporated Alameda County as well as running Santa Rita County Jail, staffing the county courts and providing law enforcement at the Oakland Airport through a contract.

His confidence in the department is opposite his view of new progressive District Attorney Pamela Price who has come in for significant criticism in her first three months in office as she seeks to turn the system upside down. Ahern pointed out that the jail once held 4,000 inmates, now it’s down to 2,500—did crime drop that much or did elected officials simply turn inmates loose on the street (the Covid pandemic helped spur that.)?

He pointed out that people convicted of drug offenses before would be sentenced to 90 days and serve half of that time. While incarcerated, they would go through withdrawal, have the services of a drug counselor available and could take other steps toward changing their life around. Now people arrested on drug charges are booked at the backdoor and exit out the front door of the jail within three hours, free to use again and steal to support their habit.

The easy availability of drugs, brought illegally across the southern border by the cartels and often distributed here by one of the four gangs operating in Oakland. The department took down a Honduran distribution center in Oakland a couple of years ago, confiscating $545,000 in cash. One of those arrested showed off a photo of his beach home on his phone that Ahern said was probably worth $600,000. Gang members, he said, work together so they bail out their arrested partner who leaves for Honduras and life of leisure living off the cash.

Ahern’s department was among the first to embrace drones, a technology that he said makes it safer for deputies and law enforcement in general. The drone cameras are so sharp that they can photograph a license plate. He said when officers are pursing a suspect, he prefers they set up a secure perimeter with drone surveillance and then send a canine (K-9) unit to find the suspect. He said dogs rarely encounter resistance, not so for officers who can end up in fist fights with a suspect. Of course, anti-police protesters also are pushing back against dogs. He pointed out that they also have great noses for drugs and can be trained to sniff down illicit technology so they are a “great tool”.

His attitude has evolved as he has aged. He said he didn’t use to think about having a gun in his Livermore home—now, at 65, he has firearms on hand because he’s not eager to engage in a fight with an intruder, a scrap he may have welcomed 25 years ago.

Ahern is a huge fan of surveillance cameras, whether operated in door bells or mounted on homes or utility poles.

The department, like most agencies, is struggling to fill vacancies. It has a broad-based recruitment effort, but the key challenge is that elected officials and progressive attorneys such as Price don’t back the officers. They’re more likely to criticize or prosecute them than have their back. He pointed out that the department, through its internal affairs group, has in-house investigations for its personnel—a job that state law now puts with the state attorney general, progressive Rob Bonta (another Alameda County product). He offered that just like a family doesn’t share a one-sided story of its dirty linen, he thinks it should be the same for agencies.

He also drew a laugh when he pointed out that Gov. Gavin Newsom made a big deal about transforming San Quentin to a rehabilitation facility and then keeping track of inmates after their discharge. He said the monitoring program is 100 years old—it’s called probation.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Rich Buckley, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 13, 2023 at 9:52 am

Rich Buckley is a registered user.

The Deep State [DS} uses any reason to override the US Constitution, disarm the population in the USA, silence any resistance and maintain our fighting age members in perpetual wars. Former Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern was silenced by Wokism in my opinion.

Posted by Dirk Svensen, a resident of Country Fair,
on Apr 13, 2023 at 10:30 am

Dirk Svensen is a registered user.

Following the Summer of Love (June 2020), the overall perception from people living around me seemed to be that violent and property crime has significantly increased, and they felt that our retired sheriff was likely tougher on crime than our current one. Yet, Sanchez was elected, and not by a large margin either. Just enough. I wonder if the Sheriff believes he legitimately lost the election.

Posted by sjd, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 13, 2023 at 11:02 am

sjd is a registered user.

Dirk, "not by a large margin either"? It was over 20% and that's without Walker's votes who probably would have gone for Sanchez. Whether you like Sanchez or not, that's not close..

Posted by Compoundinggal, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 13, 2023 at 7:20 pm

Compoundinggal is a registered user.

Maybe Ahern could lead the recall effort on Price. We definitely need a DA that wants to Prosecute crime.

Posted by Loren Bach, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Apr 14, 2023 at 12:19 pm

Loren Bach is a registered user.

Each case should be evaluated on an individual basis to ensure that justice is served.

There are many wrongfully incarcerated inmates (mostly people of color) who are victims of societal racism.

Posted by Avery James, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 15, 2023 at 9:43 am

Avery James is a registered user.

El Salvador has set the model for crime prevention by rounding-up 40,000 suspected gang members and incarcerating them in the largest prison ever built in Latin America (capacity 65,000). In addition, the president of El Salvador has suspended habeas corpus while ensuring its citizens that these alleged criminals will be locked up for life.

Today citizens can walk the streets of El Salvador safely and 90% of the population support this measure except for human rights activists who claim the president has become a dictator.

As a result, migration from El Salvador through Mexico and into the United States has pretty much ceased.

America can learn from El Salvador.

Posted by Lucinda Raines, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Apr 15, 2023 at 3:46 pm

Lucinda Raines is a registered user.

Until El Salvador becomes a thriving modern capitalist industrial country the United States has nothing to learn from a banana republic with a low literacy rate.

That's how 3rd world dictatorships exist.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 15, 2023 at 7:48 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

El Salvador is very dangerous. I wouldn't do anything they're doing.

Posted by Carolyn Walsh, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Apr 16, 2023 at 10:35 am

Carolyn Walsh is a registered user.

If Americans want more law and order, they should follow El Salvador's crime prevention model and create a draconian police state.

Otherwise accept what we've already got, both the good and the bad.

Posted by MichaelB, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Apr 16, 2023 at 11:34 am

MichaelB is a registered user.

It is not necessary to create a "draconian police state" for more law and order.

Vote/recall the "progressives" (like Pamela Price) out of office who treat the criminals like victims, thinks that law enforcement officers are racist, and prioritizes "social justice" for those arrested/charged. Replace them with those who will prioritize the victims of crime, the safety of the community, and will hold people accountable for their actions.

Posted by Fredericka Hauser, a resident of another community,
on Apr 17, 2023 at 8:53 am

Fredericka Hauser is a registered user.

Perhaps the key is to discharge all of the racist police officers (there are many) while removing the (few) prosecutors who are social justice warriors.

Posted by Marcie Davenport, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Apr 18, 2023 at 9:45 am

Marcie Davenport is a registered user.

Chronic crime in America is attributable to poor parenting (neglecting to instill moral values) along with questionable peer group pressures.

Posted by Harriet Young, a resident of another community,
on Apr 18, 2023 at 3:24 pm

Harriet Young is a registered user.

There is an upcoming rally on behalf of DA Pamela Price by her avid and countless supporters on April 29th in Oakland.

Posted by Danielle Wick, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 19, 2023 at 12:59 pm

Danielle Wick is a registered user.

Many cops are racist and misogynistic but it will take improved pre-hire screening processes to weed them out.

Posted by Lenora Stein, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Apr 19, 2023 at 3:38 pm

Lenora Stein is a registered user.

Until the police begin treating white people and people of color equally we will never have true equality in our country.

Posted by Malcolm Hex, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 20, 2023 at 4:36 am

Malcolm Hex is a registered user.


Interesting how the cop-haters clump all cops as bad. Yet, those same cop-haters never condemn those that create lawlessness. It appears a certain segment of our society would rather do away with law enforcement all together. How quaint.

You social justice warriors think you have it bad now? Under martial law you wouldn't exist. You wouldn't have the right to exist. Your physical movement would be restricted and your right to free speech would be impaired. Our democracy would collapse and America would be a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, people like Lenora Stein haven't quite grasped the fact that equality will never exist anywhere on this earth. However, I will take our form of government over any other.

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