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Thread: Orange County, CA Sheriff Investigates Spying on County Supervisors and Gun Owners

  1. #1
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    Fairfax County, Virginia, USA

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    She should also probe the erection of an illegal non gun sign by her deputies at the meeting - in california, concealed handgun permit holders may legally enter government buildings while armed.


    Sheriff launches probe into spying incident with county supervisors
    January 22nd, 2009, 12:28 pm · 50 Comments · posted by NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

    Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has launched an internal investigation into the actions of an unspecified sheriff’s official who used a security camera to view the notes of two county supervisors while they conducted a public hearing on Jan. 13.

    Hutchens also has called on the newly-formed Office of Independent Review – established to monitor internal Sheriff’s investigations – to oversee the probe.

    Hutchens said she was appalled at the incident after learning about it this week and informed county supervisors Chris Norby and Janet Nguyen that the video feed monitored by Sheriff’s officials had been used to briefly pan on their desks up on the board dais.

    I’m obviously very concerned,” said Hutchens during a Thursday morning interview on the issue. “It should not have been done.”

    “This was not part of the operations plan,” Hutchens added. “No one was requested to do this.”

    Hutchens said the department would review other tapes of meetings to see if such unauthorized video surveillance by deputies has occurred. She is also working with County CEO Tom Mauk’s office to develop camera policies.

    “We want to make sure that nothing we do interferes with the political process,” Hutchens said.

    Sheriff’s officials came out to the Jan. 13 in large numbers setting up a security zone at the Hall of Administration featuring a large contingent of deputies and plain clothes officers. Large placards in the supervisors lobby advised the audience that firearms were not allowed in the building.

    “I wasn’t surprised,” Norby said of the disclosure, which he called odd and disturbing. “Her department had set a tone that was not justified.”

    While Hutchens said it was appropriate to advise Norby and Nguyen, she said the camera only focused on their desks for under a minute and nothing was visible. She thought Norby was overreacting.

    “I think he’s absolutely overblowing it,” Hutchens said about Norby’s concerns about the Jan. 13 security presence and the video disclosures. “I think it’s a gross overreaction to what we’re trying to, which is to provide for the security of the board of supervisors and the public.”

    Several gun activists were expected to speak at the Jan. 13 meeting in response to an update that Hutchens was providing on her concealed weapons permit policies.

    According to Hutchens – who defends the large public presence of deputies because of unspecified threats – deputies in a lobby station used their security cameras that day to span the audience. That was appropriate, Hutchens said.

    But after reviewing the videotape, before releasing it due to a public records request by concealed weapons activists, Hutchens said she was informed that the camera had briefly focused in on the work desks of Norby and Nguyen.

    Hutchens said a group, Ordinary California Citizens concerned with Safety, had made a public records request for the video feed.

    That group is connected to many of the gun activists who said they felt intimidated by the public presence of so many deputies. Several members of the group were questioned by Sheriff’s officials at the Jan. 13 meeting.

    One woman who has spoken against Hutchen’s gun policies said she was even followed into the bathroom that day.

    Hutchens defends the security ramp up on Jan. 13 noting that several factors motivated the large presence.

    The board of supervisors was being sworn in that day, hundreds of lay off notices were going out to social service workers and the gun activists were expected. Hutchens said another group, which supports the right to openly carry an unloaded firearm in public, also was expected.

    Yet Hutchens also notes that the concealed weapons activists have been amicable to her at every meeting despite deep seated opposition to her gun permit policy revisions.

    Despite that, she said she had to prepare for a potential threat.

    “Had I not increased security based on the information I had, and something happened, we’d be having a very different discussion today,” Hutchens said.

    Yet Norby counters that the board of supervisors, not the Sheriff, is in charge of the boardroom. He also saw the security presence as largely unneeded and questioned the specific nature of the threats received.

    He expects to have a full discussion of the events when the board of supervisors meets next Tuesday and approves it’s board rules for meetings.

  2. #2
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    Feb 2007
    City of Angeles - San Fernando Valley, California, USA

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    Mike wrote:
    She should also probe the erection of an illegal non gun sign by her deputies at the meeting - in California, concealed handgun permit holders may legally enter government buildings while armed.
    Ya but they don't because of may issue and will revoke at will problems. The group going to the meetings are basically begging to keep their licenses and have found the willing ears of a few of the county supervisors (who have no real say in the issue anyway as all they can do is justadvise the Sheriff).

  3. #3
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    Feb 2009
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    Here is a cross-post for the results of the request for the video feed/public records.


    hoping the link works ...

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