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Elk Grove Citizen

Sheriff-elect Jim Cooper speaks at Carmichael Luncheon

Oct 25, 2022 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Shaun Holkko, assistant editor

Sacramento County Sheriff-elect Jim Cooper speaks at the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Tuesday, October 25 in Carmichael.

Sheriff-elect Jim Cooper speaks at Carmichael Luncheon [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) – Sacramento County Sheriff-elect Jim Cooper spoke at the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Tuesday in Carmichael.

Cooper was elected in June as Sacramento County’s first Black sheriff. He served in the California State Assembly for eight years since 2014 before being chosen as the next sheriff.

The first issue that Cooper addressed Tuesday was how to deal with those who are unhoused.

“At some point, someone has to be the adult in the room and that’s really been my number one priority, I ran on that, to make sure we deal with the homeless issue and fix it,” Cooper said. “We still want to help people, we want to be compassionate, but we’re also going to be firm in dealing with those folks.”

According to Cooper, things in California’s Capitol have shifted a lot since he was a child when it comes to the homeless population.

“I grew up my whole life here in Sacramento, things have really changed and it’s not ok with me,” Cooper proclaimed. “Sometimes you can’t be afraid to go out and say things or rub folks wrong when it comes to it because it’s affecting our quality of life. We have to do something about it. It hasn’t worked so it’s time for something new and to be very firm with it.”

One of the first things Cooper plans to do as sheriff is to clean up the Sacramento Northern bike trail and remove any homeless people who have their camps set up on it, which drew applause from the Carmichael audience in attendance. The next issue that he discussed is crime.

“Besides the economy right now, homelessness and crime are polling very high,” Cooper explained. “People are fed up. There’s not a lot of accountability (in the criminal justice system) right now and bad guys know that. What’s interesting (is) if you go downtown, the folks who are in jail right now average five felony convictions. There are no low-level offenders in jails and prisons.”

Cooper explained that the change in the demographic of jails and prisons started with Assembly Bill 109 which was passed in 2011. The bill places defendants with less serious felonies in county jails rather than state prison.

“We’re struggling with our kids in education, yet the inmates down in both jails, the one downtown and the one in Elk Grove, have iPads, they have tablets to do things on,” Cooper said. “So here you are, you have inmates who have tablets, and you have kids that don’t have tablets and have no connectivity in their homes. You only have so much capacity so we should be putting more effort on our children with that.”

Proposition 57 was passed in California in 2016. Prop. 57 allows low level offenders early parole hearings and eventual release. Cooper pointed out the flaw with the proposition is what the state of California classifies as “nonviolent.”

“If it’s a nonviolent crime, you get out of jail or prison early,” he said. “What’s nonviolent in California is drugging and raping a woman, raping someone developmentally disabled, drive by shootings, domestic violence (and) human trafficking of a child. I tried five or six times in the last eight years to try and push that bill to change it. I couldn’t get it changed.”

Cooper also mentioned that hate crimes, like recent physical attacks on the Asian community, are considered nonviolent in California. He also mentioned that the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office is currently understaffed by 100 deputies.

One audience member asked Cooper about his opinion on private gun ownership, which has been a hot topic for him in the past. In 2020, the California Rifle and Pistol Association graded Cooper an “F” on his Second Amendment position.

“I support (carry concealed weapons), it’s one of those things (where) people should be able to protect themselves and their families,” Cooper responded. “If something happens, law enforcement is not going to be there. A lot of folks are saying, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t have these people carrying guns.’ The numbers aren’t there, we have never had problems with CCW owners. They wanted to ban guns, but the issue is, the folks who are carrying guns, (like) the K Steet mall shooting, those folks are all felons prohibited from carrying guns. They carry them anyways.

“A lot of the issues are not responsible gun owners, it’s the illegal gun owners who don’t give a damn.”

One of the final audience members, who requested to remain anonymous, decided to make a statement rather than ask a question when he was handed the microphone.

“I just wanted to say that Jim Cooper is a man of his word,” the Carmichael resident stated while citing previous experiences.

Cooper will be beginning his new role as Sacramento County sheriff in December.