Watchdog light

Former Brentwood police chief and his refined I.G. powers met with skepticism by critics of Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones

After 15 months without having someone to watchdog one of the state’s biggest law enforcement agencies, Sacramento County supervisors on Dec. 10 selected a retired Brentwood police chief to monitor the Sheriff’s Office.

Before being appointed inspector general last week, Mark D. Evenson ran the small, posh Los Angeles County agency for almost 11 years until 2017. Before then, most of Evenson’s career was spent with the Seattle Police Department, including a two-year stint in internal affairs.

Numerous speakers, including those associated with the local ACLU chapter and Decarcerate Sacramento, expressed skepticism about Evenson and the scope of services that defines his powers, especially since the reason the inspector general position lay vacant for more than a year was because Sheriff Scott Jones unilaterally forced out former I.G. Rick Braziel in August 2018.

Supervisors spiked a clause in the contract that would have prevented Jones from doing what he did last time—banishing an I.G. who criticized the fatal freeway shooting of Mikel McIntyre, a mentally ill black man who struck a deputy with a rock and was running away when he was killed.

“What are we learning from those mistakes?” asked Ryan McClinton, an organizer with Sacramento Area Congregations Together and one of multiple speakers urging the county to create a civilian review board with subpoena powers.

While that didn’t happen, Supervisor Phil Serna, a critic of the sheriff’s handling of the situation, pointed to a new dispute resolution process that would bring in a retired superior court judge as mediator if the sheriff and I.G. butt heads again.

“What I think this does do is it gives the entire community … some breathing room,” Serna said. (Raheem F. Hosseini)