Candidate John Mutz Speaks to Club about Changing the Law Enforcement Culture of the Sheriff’s Office

At the club’s meeting on February 22nd, John Mutz told the Windsor Democrats that he believes the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office needs to change its culture. He said that law enforcement today is generally is rooted in a status quo that has negative impacts not only on citizens but also on the officers themselves.

Mutz, in his presentation, the third in the club series by the declared candidates for Sheriff (the other two presentations were by candidates Mark Essick and Ernesto Olivares), said that the impacts of the Sheriff’s Office on many other areas of our society are too important to ignore. By urging deputies to open themselves to training and assistance from outsiders, we can impact education, mental health issues, homelessness, domestic abuse, and immigrants, to name just a few areas.

Mutz, who rose through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department to become station commander, was asked to implement a new form of policing after the Rodney King riots in 1992. He was successful in getting relations to improve between the police and the community they served, in mostly Latino and immigrant areas. Unfortunately, a new LA Police Chief told him that they needed to go back to the old ways, where quotas and numbers of arrests, and how long they could extend sentences, were the measure of success. So Mutz left the department, becoming a consultant nationwide.

Mutz and his family moved to Sonoma County six years ago. He never intended to go back into law enforcement work directly. But after the Andy Lopez shooting and the retirement of Sheriff Freitas, many members of our community urged Mutz to run for office, knowing about his background in the theory and practice of quality police work.

Mutz believes that police officers and sheriff’s deputies are best served by openness and transparency. This allows them to become exposed to criticism and complaint, but it also allows them to grow as humans. Through actively soliciting input from the community, the sheriff’s department can change to meet the community’s needs. Such practices also gradually increase trust within the community.

Mutz believes that our Sheriff’s department, like most other law enforcement agencies, relies on the status quo to protect the agency, closing ranks when problems arise. Failures are hidden; the system continues relatively unchanged. Even the attempt by the County to establish an oversight agency could not use the word “oversight,” because the Sheriff opposed that. The new agency was named the Independent Office for Law Enforcement and Outreach.

Since our elected Sheriff is independent of the county board of supervisors in everything except budget, he/she alone determines policy and procedures. The sheriff must welcome change, or it won’t take place. And the voters are the only ones who can hire and monitor the sheriff, unless he/she invites oversight

More information about John Mutz and his campaign is at

— Rick Massell

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