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Patterson police chief throws hat into sheriff's race

Patterson police chief throws hat into sheriff's race

Tori Hughes, a 14-year veteran of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and current Chief of Police in Patterson, announced her candidacy for Stanislaus County Sheriff on Wednesday.


POSTED June 19, 2013 6:05 p.m.

Tori Hughes, a 14-year veteran of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and current Chief of Police in Patterson, announced her candidacy for Stanislaus County Sheriff on Wednesday.

Hughes cited an ongoing fission within the sheriff’s department as one of her deciding factors to seek the county’s highest law enforcement position.

“I see a need for change and leadership for the community and I truly believe I am the right person for it,” Hughes said.

Hughes has been the Chief of Police in Patterson for the last four years. As the Chief, Hughes oversees the Patterson Police Services, which contracts with the sheriff’s department for law enforcement needs, and manages an annual estimated budget of $3.5 million. She also manages the department’s K9 Unit.

“I have pretty much been running my own police department out there,” Hughes said. “I’ve been working with the community and bringing them together with our organization to fight crime and that will help me with my next role. “

Hughes’ career with the sheriff’s department started in 1999 in Patrol. She served as a detective in the investigative unit, where her focus was on elder abuse and crimes against children. Hughes was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2005, and lieutenant in 2007 where she managed and directed sheriff patrols throughout the county.

“I started on the front lines as a patrol officer and over the course of my career focused more and more on the need to bring people and communities together within our county,” Hughes said.

Last year Hughes was called to the stand in Deputy Dennis Wallace’s discrimination suit against the sheriff’s department. It was during the trial that the term “limp, lame and lazy” in reference to sick or injured employees at the department became public. Hughes testified she heard the term used frequently by the managing staff at the department, including Sheriff Adam Christianson and was embarrassed by its use. Christianson has subsequently ordered department employees to no longer use the phrase.

In announcing her bid for the sheriff’s position, Hughes said she would focus on re-building morale at the department.

 “Discord and conflict in the ranks of those who would enforce the law is demoralizing and weakens the very fabric of who we are and what we are sworn to do,” Hughes said. “We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. I will see to it that officer morale is never undermined. I intend to put an end to discord and to promote a positive relationship with the union. Employees and their rights will be honored, not just because it is the right thing to do but because we cannot maximize our ability to fight crime when we are distracted by policy violations and lawsuits.

“As sheriff, I will bring clarity where there is lack of focus, and introduce unity where there is division,” Hughes said. “We must retain our best officers, and work closely with other local law enforcement and community leaders. We must improve our overall performance, target high crime areas, and protect the most vulnerable in our society — our children and our elderly.”

Christianson has said he will seek re-election in 2014. Deputy Tom Letras announced his bid for the position in September 2012.

 

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