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San Diego County supervisors choose Anthony Ray as interim sheriff

Courtesy of County News Center
Anthony Ray, interim county sheriff, is shown in San Diego, Calif. March 22, 2022.

UPDATE: 5:24 p.m., Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously chose Anthony Ray to serve as the interim sheriff of San Diego County.

Ray, an assistant county sheriff who oversees courts and human resources, will fill the role previously held by Bill Gore, who stepped down last month after serving a dozen years in the position.

Ray will serve until the winner of the November election takes over. The 74-year-old Gore announced last summer that he would not seek re-election this year.

"I am extremely honored and humbled to be appointed as the Interim Sheriff of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and am grateful to the Board of Supervisors for affording me this opportunity to lead our department," said Ray. "I will continue to serve our communities, expand our partnerships with local advocacy groups, continue the improvements to our jails and keep public safety at the forefront of our daily operations."

The board made its decision after an hour-long forum that included asking candidates questions and hearing from the public. Supervisors chose Ray over two fellow county law enforcement veterans, Michael Barletta and Edwin Brock. Audience members applauded after the announcement.

Before the board's vote, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors heard comments from several people who did not approve of any of the candidates.

“We want in that place for the Attorney General Rob Bonta to take over in this interim period of 9 to 10 months," said Yusef Miller of the North County Equity and Justice Coalition as he testified to the board Tuesday morning. Their main issue is the number of deaths in county jails. San Diego County has had the highest jail mortality rate among California’s largest counties for years.

After some questioning of the candidates, the board voted and it was unanimous.

“The results are that Anthony Ray received five votes from all five supervisors,” said Andrew Potter, the clerk of the Board of Supervisors.

After the Board of Supervisors made their decision, a group of racial justice advocates held a news conference in front of the County Administration Center. They were not happy.

“Take this seriously, don’t wait for the next one, two three, four, five people to die before you take this seriously and intervene," said Darwin Fishman of the Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego.

“While this Board of Supervisors sits still and idle, trying to use bureaucracy to hide behind, they are at fault as well," said Tasha Williamson, a local racial justice advocate.

But, shortly after being selected, Ray said the department has been working to fix problems with the jails pointed out in a scathing audit done by the state earlier this year.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that the Sheriff’s Department worked side by side with the auditors to create some of the recommendations that we’re actually implementing right now and in fact some of those implementations we started before the audit started and now we shared them with the audit committee and they approved those," Ray said.

Nathan Fletcher, board chairman, said he and his colleagues "selected an interim sheriff who has demonstrated a commitment to reducing violent crime, improving the conditions in our jails, and embracing law enforcement best practices, along with a commitment to racial justice."

Officially seeking the post so far in the run-up to November's election are Undersheriff Kelly Martinez, former sheriff's Commander David Myers, Assistant San Diego City Attorney John Hemmerling and sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Newsom.

Ray will serve until a new Sheriff — to be elected in November — takes office next January.

Original story:

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors advanced three candidates Tuesday who will be considered next week as interim sheriff.

Michael Barletta, Edwin Brock and Anthony Ray are all law enforcement veterans. Barletta and Brock previously worked in the sheriff's department. Barletta, who retired as a commander, is now an instructor and consultant. Brock — who retired as a lieutenant and was in charge of the San Marcos station — serves as chief of police in Arvin, a city in Kern County.

RELATED: Gore's retirement unlikely to create incumbent advantage in sheriff's race

Ray is an assistant San Diego County sheriff who oversees courts and human resources.

A fourth nominee, Hank Turner, recently withdrew from consideration.

The board will meet again March 22 to choose the replacement, who will serve until January, when the winner of November's election takes over.

Barletta, who comes from a military family and raised his three children in San Diego County, told the board he offers "unparalleled experience the department needs ... during this time of transition." Barletta said he would address the state auditors' report on jail deaths, use data- driven policing methods and make sure that resources are directed where needs exist.

Brock stressed that working with the community is very important, and his leadership style "would humanize the badge."

"It's very important we connect with the community," he added.

Brock also said he's not afraid to have the department change course to demonstrate its willingness to listen to residents.

Ray touted his years with the department, educational background and involvement in the NAACP. In terms of recruitment, "if we don't have public trust, it's hard to get people through the door," he said. "I believe success comes from hard work and strong leadership"*

Supervisors' questions covered topics such as turning over undocumented immigrants over to U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement, recruiting more deputies, respecting residents' civil rights, and reducing the number of lawsuits filed against the department.

During a public comment period, several speakers -- including David Leonhardi, president of the Deputy Sheriffs' Association of San Diego County -- urged the board to select Ray, based on his experience and community engagement.

Whoever is selected will serve as the temporary replacement for Bill Gore, who stepped down last month after serving a dozen years in the position.

The 74-year-old Gore announced last summer that he would not seek re-election this year.

Officially seeking the post so far in the upcoming election are Undersheriff Kelly Martinez, former sheriff's Cmdr. David Myers, Assistant San Diego City Attorney John Hemmerling and sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Newsom.