Sheriff Candidate Says He's Target Of Retaliation
On Aug. 18, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore sent a letter to Dave Myers, a commander and 32-year veteran in the department who also happens to be trying to unseat Gore in next year's election.
"This notice is to advise you that effective immediately, August 18, 2017, your duties have been reassigned from the Court Services Bureau to special projects," the letter begins.
What follows are 11 orders tightly restricting the hours Myers can work (8 to 5, with a lunch break from noon to 12:30), where he can be (office 205, which Myers said is a former broom closet), and what he can do on the job (duties are to be assigned daily by an assistant sheriff). Attending any department meetings "or any other work-related meetings" is strictly forbidden without authorization from a superior.
The final order restricts what Myers can say: "You are ordered to refrain from making statements on behalf of the Sheriff's Department or releasing any Department information to anyone regarding any Sheriff's Department matters without prior review and approval of Assistant Sheriff (Larry) Nesbit."
The letter concludes: "The reassignment is not intended to be a punitive action, and it is based on the Department's interests."
Myers said in an interview that the reassignment was an effort to undermine his candidacy.
"It only came about as a result of my campaigning and talking about issues in the community and why I'm running for sheriff," he said.
While Myers first spoke publicly about his reassignment in a campaign statement Wednesday, the contents of the Aug. 18 letter were previously unreported.
Myers, a Democrat, is in the awkward position of being a subordinate to the sheriff while also trying to win an election against him. Campaigning inevitably involves criticizing Gore, a Republican, and how he runs the Sheriff's Department. But while in most jobs such criticism of one's boss would be grounds for dismissal, Myers said he has a right to campaign like any other candidate would.
"As an officer who is protected by the Peace Officer's Bill of Rights, as a candidate for sheriff, and as a citizen, it is my right to run for public office and to speak freely in doing so," a Myers campaign statement said Wednesday. "Gore is using the power of his office for political purposes, to stifle an opponent who has spoken out against him."
Myers is not the first active member of the department to challenge Gore at the ballot box. In 2010, then-Lieutenant Jim Duffy ran for the office. Duffy has since retired.
Myers said his daily duties for the past four months have been to figure out what to do with square footage in a new crime lab being constructed at the County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa. He said such planning is typically done by civilian staff in the department's Management Services Bureau, not sworn deputies.
The Sheriff's Department website lists the Facilities Planning and Management Division in the Management Services Bureau, stating that the division "maintains all department facilities and plans and oversees all facility enhancements, capital projects and major maintenance projects."
Sheriff's Department spokesman Ryan Keim said in an email: "Dave Myers ... was assigned to the position because the Department had a need for this work to be done, it was not retaliation. He remains an employee of the Sheriff's Department and receives full salary and benefits."