Critics say Sheriff’s campaign promises broken

By Royal Calkins

Steve Berrnal, a South County deputy with no command experience, seemed like an extreme longshot when he threw his Stetson into the ring to run for Monterey County sheriff in 2014. He was up against Scott Miller, who had risen through the ranks of the Salinas and Pacific Grove police departments before becoming sheriff.

To lend his campaign some gravitas, Bernal made a big deal of his 10-year plan for the department. Six-plus years later, it remains mostly that, a plan. According to his critics, including three department insiders, almost nothing on the list has been accomplished. 

Here’s the plan, edited for length and clarity: 

  • Increase support for the gang task force. 
  • Dramatically increase the number of deputies working on investigations.
  • Establish a violent crimes unit … (I)t will be staffed by several investigators who will build cases against violent and repeat offenders.
  • Establish a cyber sex crimes unit.
  • Increase collaboration with all regional law enforcement agencies.
  • Improve communication with the public. I will implement annual public town hall meetings in every jurisdiction in Monterey County, which will be open to everyone.
  • Improve employee communication within the MCSO.
  • Implement the over $89 million county jail expansion, due to be completed in 2017.
  • Increase the size and training for the agriculture crime task force. 
  • Establish a volunteer auxiliary unit … composed of trained citizens who will partner with active officers. These citizens will put more eyes and ears on the street at a low cost and create a line of communication with the public.
  • Establish school resources officers.
  • Establish a crime victim support unit.
  • Support treatment centers … to keep low level offenders, mostly drug abusers, out of the county jail and in treatment centers.
Royal Calkins

About Royal Calkins

Contributing writer Royal Calkins has worked for newspapers in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Fresno. For the past couple of years, he has produced a local news and commentary blog, the Monterey Bay Partisan. He can be reached at