Sacramento County sheriff makes case for smart policing

Shift in strategy would trade indiscriminate dragnets for patrol teams, but it comes with a price

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones looked the gift horse in the mouth and dared ask for more.

During budget hearings last month, county officials proposed increasing the sheriff's budget by nearly $21 million to $343 million, representing a 7 percent bump over last year.

But Jones, who had unveiled an ambitious patrol strategy meant to curtail slowing response times, said he needed an extra $9.8 million to painlessly transition his department to what he calls intelligence-led policing. “I'm asking for a lot of money,” he told supervisors on June 15. “I understand that.”

Here's how it works: Rather than having a shifting deployment of patrol deputies and supervising officers assigned to different geographic sectors throughout the week, intelligence-led policing employs a team concept. It assigns a static platoon of patrol deputies, sergeants and a lieutenant to a single sector—day in, day out.

Jones argued that having the same supervisors to report to would make officers more accountable and build trust in neighborhoods that will come to know their cops.

“We … must move away from our normal enforcement efforts, which is saturation of neighborhoods, casting wide nets,” he said. “We now have the intelligence and data capabilities to be able to identify the 6 percent of people that are responsible for the 60 percent of crime.”

Supervisors were supportive of the strategy, but cowed with sticker shock. While no action was taken, they proposed augmenting Jones' budget by an additional $4.7 million, approximately $5 million short of his request, when the county budget is voted on later this month.