San Diego County jails will have new oversight from department veteran
Speaker 1: (00:00)
San Diego county jails will have new oversight. The Sheriff's department is promoting there Adams Heidar to lead the detention services bureau. Later this month, this news comes just days after California's auditor published its investigation of county jails. Finding the Sheriff's department quote, failed to adequately prevent and respond to the deaths of individuals in its custody. 185. People have died in custody over the last 15 years, which is among the highest of the California jail systems and assistant sheriff Teresa Adams. Heder joins me now. Welcome.
Speaker 2: (00:35)
Speaker 1: (00:36)
As I mentioned, the state auditor released a report that was critical of the PR practices of staff working in county jails. Uh, here are some of the findings from that report instances where people asked for or needed medical and mental health care and did not get it, or didn't get it in a timely manner in adequate safety checks. And the people responsible for investigating in custody deaths are not doing so in a third timely or transparent manner. What is your response to this report?
Speaker 2: (01:06)
It was hard to take. It's always hard to take information that shows that maybe we weren't living to the standards that was expected. And I recognize the need for us to look at some of these recommendations in that audit and follow through with some of the ideas that have come through in addition to continuing ideas that we had already put into play within our jail systems to make it a safer environment for those incarcerated individuals. So really it's just looking at the recommendations, what have we been doing? What can we do better and what can we change? And maybe open a different set of eyes to look at processes that weren't as good as they should have been or can just be improved.
Speaker 1: (01:44)
And I wanna ask you separately about the number of people who have died by suicide in custody, 52 people over the last 15 years, more than twice the number in other large counties in the state when asked about this former sheriff gore attributed this to the high number of white and inmates in county jails, who are statistically more likely to die by suicide. He said, uh, do you agree with that assessment
Speaker 2: (02:11)
At this point, since I haven't really jumped in with both feet into the detention setting, I don't know enough to speak to that. I do know that incarcerated people are at risk of many things, and of course we're dealing with some people that may have, um, mental health issues already before coming to the jail, as well as being an environment that's new and, and maybe scary for them or some that have been in and out of the system for many years. And at this point, I'll definitely be looking into what we can do to reach out to those people who are at most risk of mental health, crises and suicide. For sure.
Speaker 1: (02:45)
And what will you do as assistant sheriff to address the issues raised in the report and prevent future deaths in county jails?
Speaker 2: (02:52)
I know there's a lot that has been done by the previous command under assistant sheriff Frierson. A lot of great programs have been put in place and a lot of recommendations made by this audit. I think definitely we're gonna look at bottom line, where do we need to start? And what can we do to make some really, um, recommended and needed improvements in our facilities? There are a lot of laws statutes that we need to follow as a detention facility and looking at how we can use the resources we current we have and identifying ones that we didn't even know that we could seek or use going forward. And that's gonna be probably my team. We are gonna sit down and start prioritizing where we need to put new staffing infrastructure changes, new equipment, new wifi in the facilities to make sure that inmates have access to what they need for mental healthcare, medical care, their visits, to maintain their outlook on life and not only listening to the community, but I know there are families of incarcerated persons who have expressed their concerns and I'm willing to listen to what they have to say, issues that they may have.
Speaker 2: (03:54)
And I would like to hear what they have to say.
Speaker 1: (03:56)
And you know, much has been said about the role that jail play in addressing the mental health challenges and services of inmates. What are your thoughts on this role? And do you think it needs to be refocused in any way?
Speaker 2: (04:09)
This is a tough one and I don't think jails are necessarily where that needs to happen for years and years, law enforcement has kind of become that if you don't know where to go call 9 1 1, I think the San Diego county's been doing a really great job moving towards a direction where mental health is very important. It's on the forefront. I've been working with, uh, health and human services on the mobile crisis response team, recognizing the need for other outlets, for individuals who need help, who are in crisis. The gel is basically a microcosm of San Diego county and those people are also gonna need mental health treatment. And I think partnering in the future with health and human services and other entities addressing the needs of that population is very important. And I'm hoping that we can make some really good partnerships with mobile crisis response team, getting them connections. As we know, people are leaving custody, making sure they still have the resources and that they're not in custody and not know what they're gonna do. Likewise, if someone is receiving mental health treatment and then they become an incarcerated person, how do we keep that continuity of treatment going? Even though now they're in the facility, I think that's really important. And it's something that I'm gonna work towards.
Speaker 1: (05:17)
And you'll be stepping into this role with 27 years of prior experience in the, uh, what will you bring to this position? With that experience?
Speaker 2: (05:25)
I have worked numerous positions in the Sheriff's department. Most of my career was in the law enforcement side, but I did start as a detention deputy early on. I've hired people as a background. Sergeant I've worked in internal affairs. So I've dealt with the accountability side and the corrective action side I've worked in investigative fields. So I think my experience after 27 years with the different types of disciplines and law enforcement, as well as working with a myriad of stakeholders out in our community, whether it's mental health or addiction or just other community groups. I have a lot of friends, associates, colleagues who I think I can pull on to kind of help me see the bigger picture and bring resources in necessary equipment and personnel to our incarcerated population to make sure we're providing the safe, uh, environment for them at all times.
Speaker 1: (06:16)
And you've certainly touched on this, but this is obviously a critical moment of transition for the department. You're stepping into this new role after bill Gore's retirement. What kind of leadership do you think the department needs as it looks for a new sheriff?
Speaker 2: (06:30)
I respect sheriff Goran. What he's brought to the table. I think, uh, acting sheriff killing Martinez is really trying to focus on our people. Not only the people who work in our department, but that includes our incarcerated population as well. I think collaboration is a big key. As I said, we are a community partner in San Diego county, the Sheriff's department, and we need to really work with our partners of all types, of all kinds of all discipline, to bring resources, to bring a new eye, to what's, to what we need in, in not only the Sheriff's department, but specifically our jails and, and assist us. And I think our ear is open. My ear is open. Uh, any future leader that is in this department needs to have that open ear and open eye to what the community wants expects and the perceptions we need an education and a dialogue back and forth with that same population. And I think that's what a leader needs to, to bring to the department. At this point,
Speaker 1: (07:26)
I've been speaking with there Adams, Heidar the new assistant sheriff of the detention services bureau commander Adams. Hyder. Thank you so much for joining us.
Speaker 2: (07:34)
Thank you for your time.
Speaker 1: (07:36)
This San Diego county Sheriff's department is all also currently involved in a class action lawsuit, filed by the a C L U alleging inadequate living conditions and medical care.
San Diego County's jails will soon have a new leader.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is promoting Cmdr. Theresa Adams-Hydar to lead its Detention Services Bureau beginning later this month.
RELATED: State audit: San Diego County fails to curb inmate deaths
This news comes just days after the California State Auditor published an investigation criticizing the conditions and management of the county's jails. The report was published on the same day as former Sheriff Bill Gore's retirement. Adams-Hydar will replace Assistant Sheriff Erika Frierson, who is also retiring.
RELATED: San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore leaves office with mixed legacy
Over the last 15 years, 185 people have died in custody in San Diego County. The number is among the highest of the California jail system. According to state investigators, 52 of those deaths were suicides, more than twice the number in other large counties in the state.
Adams-Hydar joined Midday Edition on Thursday with more on what needs to be changed within San Diego's jails.