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Solano County Sheriff says job unfinished, running for re-election

TheReporter | May 13, 2017

His mission isn’t over.

Which is why, 34 years after becoming a peace officer, Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrara is running for re-election in 2018.

“I have unfinished business,” Ferrara confirmed last week.

Tasked with keeping the community — both inside and outside the jail system — safe upon being appointed sheriff in 2012, Ferrara said there’s much still to do along that vein. From addressing an increasing inmate population to better preparing them for release to staff training and succession planning, there’s no shortage of work.

There’s also no end to his commitment, he said, adding that his new bride, Judi, and his twin sons, Nicholas and Holden, are behind him all the way.

“If she’d have said no, I wouldn’t be doing this,” he advised, of his wife of barely a week. “But we talked, and she understands what I do… and she has a background in politics.”

His support system in place, Ferrara is moving full steam ahead with what he calls the people’s business.

One of his top priorities, he said, is ensuring that the Sheriff’s Office remains engaged in and relevant to the community. It’s a sign of the times that social media has become the norm and technology continues to play a big role in policing, he said.

And so, the department has become more active on social media platforms to better engage with residents and maintain transparency.

As for technology, deputies are now wearing body cameras and there’s a possibility for corrections staff to wear them, too. The devices would add another layer of safety for custody officials, the sheriff said, and inmates, as well, he explained.

“We’re very proactive,” Ferrara emphasized.

A cop’s cop, Ferrara said he’s always looking to enhance best practices.

With several decades of experience under his belt, he’s matured from a police cadet with the Rio Vista Police Department, his hometown agency, to a seasoned professional.

From a reserve officer in Rio Vista upon graduating from San Joaquin Delta College’s first basic peace officers academy, he became an officer with nearby Isleton Police Department in 1983. A year later, he began his career with the Sheriff’s Office.

Over the years he worked nearly every department, from patrol to courts to public information. Along the way he was promoted, from sheriff’s deputy, to chief deputy to captain, to undersheriff and, finally, sheriff.

Always, he was learning, from assisting in the merger of the Vallejo Marshal’s Office with the Sheriff’s Office to managing the corrections side of the house.

Since his appointment to sheriff and subsequent election to the post, Ferrara’s focus has been on maintaining a safe community, providing great customer service and preparing the Sheriff’s Office for the future.

With prison realignment and other legislation pouring inmates back into the community, Ferrara secured millions of dollars in government funding to build better jail and vocational facilities and provide all manner of jail programming.

The latter, he said, is imperative to curbing recidivism.

One of his proudest accomplishments, he said, has been partnering with Five Keys Charter School and graduating 24 inmates with high school diplomas.

“One of the most moving things is when you see one of these big, hardened criminals talking to mom and grandma, saying ‘I did this for you,’” he shared.

Next up is relevant vocational training in areas where they can actually get a job once released from incarceration. Thus far, inmates can choose from aircraft engine repair, truck and bus driving, solar panel repair and diesel mechanics.

Outside the jails, Ferrara is bringing back the resident deputy program in June with staff in every city except Benicia. Residents, apparently, are excited.

“That’s community policing at the heart of it,” he said. “That’s how you provide good customer service.”

Ensuring a team exists to continue providing excellence is apparently another way to accomplish that goal.

Ferrara plans to heavily mentor and train more staff to better prepare them to take over when he retires.

Space-wise, there’s more beds than are needed for inmates.

At the animal shelter the department oversees, adoptions are up.

The sheriff expressed pride in the department and his staff thus far, saying his longevity is linked to the success of both.

Being sheriff, he said, is a privilege, one he’s not yet ready to let go.

“I love my job,” he shared, adding, “This job is a hell of a lot of fun.”

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View Original Publication: TheReporter