MCSO candidates talk issues

Sheriff Ralph Obenberger, Candidate Ingrid Braun

Sheriff Ralph Obenberger, Candidate Ingrid Braun

Mono County Sheriff Ralph Obenberger presented himself as community and people friendly. His opponent, Ingrid Braun, said the Sheriff has failed at his community relations. The two candidates for Sheriff answered an hour’s worth of questions at the recent Mammoth Lakes Noon Rotary Club Candidates Forum in Mammoth Lakes.

Coming into the forum, Sheriff Obenberger had made news headlines. When the Board of Supervisors asked him about the many arrests of Burning Man participants, Obenberger went to the Board to tell them his Department is only under his control. Obenberger also made news in the Jon Madrid case. As Undersheriff he was part of what a judge called an effort of harassment. Then Judge Mark Magit found that two of Obenberger’s officers had arrested a man and searched his car without probable cause.

Ingrid Braun made reference to some of those news items. But, first, the two candidates told of their backgrounds. Obenberger described his 28 years in law enforcement in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and then Mono County, his 32 years of marriage and three children. He described himself and his current department as “proactive and interactive.” He said, “It’s the peoples’ department.”

Ingrid Braun described her degree in political science and 21 years with the LAPD where she rose through the ranks to detective, supervisor, officer-in-charge of the Internal Affairs Group and later the Gang Impact Team, then Watch Commander of a large area and 60 officers. She worked briefly for the Mono Sheriff and now fills the role of Mammoth Lakes Reserve Officer.

Braun said she differs from Obenberger because of her plan to “reconnect the Sheriff’s Office with the communities.” She wants a Community Advisory Board and Town Hall meetings, she said, to “partner with the community and stakeholders.” Obenberger said he is set apart from Braun because of his knowledge and expertise knowing the Sheriff’s Office itself. He said in 14 years he has managed almost every department, and he has handled the biggest budget in the County. Obenberger said he has fiscal knowledge and knows how to manage people. He said he leads by example and is part of the team. “The guys and girls are the boots on the street,” he said. “I manage them. This puts me ahead of my opponent.”

The Justice Department has endorsed the concept of community policing. The candidates were asked to define community policing and whether it is used in Mono County. Obenberger responded by saying his department is proactive and not reactive. He said to maintain the quality of life means to keep the criminal element out. He said his door is open and his staff listens to community concerns. He said, “We self-assess if that needs to be done.” He said he and his staff attend community meetings and talk to people.

Braun said community policing to her means collaboration – a partnership with the people, businesses and other agencies and stakeholders. She said she does not believe strong community policing is happening in Mono County. She said she hears people say they don’t know who the Sheriff’s Department is and they are “afraid to make complaints.” Braun said she would institute community policing and empower the deputies to solve problems on the spot. “I would empower the community,” said Braun, “to work collaboratively on a Community Advisory Board.” She said, “I want community policing for Mono County. I hear complaints about that. If I am Sheriff, we will listen.”

The candidates were asked if deputies spend too much time on Highway 395 and if the Sheriff’s Department should patrol the highways. Obenberger said, “I’m proactive. Not just on the highways but with MONET in the communities.” He said narcotics is an issue and his men get tips from the communities and watch traffic on the highway. He said that the CHP and the Sheriff’s Department do traffic enforcement. Obenberger said, “Individuals don’t know why we are on the highway. Law Enforcement does. We don’t target people. If there is a legal reason, we stop them. If not, we don’t.”

Braun said resources should be allocated into the communities where the people live and come to visit. She said Highway 395 is Main Street for some communities. Said Braun, “If we see problems, we will respond.” She said Highway 395, however, is not generally where deputies need to be. Braun pointed to criticism of her opponent when she said, “We don’t need to be profiling people on 395 whether it’s for Burning Man or other issues. Law Enforcement should be mindful of constitutional rights and know that there is probable cause before they make a traffic stop so we don’t have a situation like that of Mr. Boulaalam which the Sheriff’s Department lost in court. The Judge found there was no reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop, the evidence was tossed and the case was lost. This could potentially cost us a lot of money.”

Braun said focus should go on communities and tourists. She said, “If you break the law, you should go to jail. Deputies should not be focused on tourists. They should focus on criminal and non-criminal activity that impacts our quality of life.”

The two candidates closely agreed on the finances and needs of 24-hour service. They also closely commented on needs for overtime and expenses on staffing.

, , , ,

17 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mono Misogynist
Mono Misogynist
8 years ago

Jenn now you know why Ingrid Braun was fired with no cause! When she asked why he was terminating just days before her probation was up he said “looking at the big picture you don’t fit in my department” His vision is no WOMEN in leadership roles or with any… Read more »

Jenn Mately
Jenn Mately
8 years ago

Why are there no women deputies in MCSO? I heard a rumor that Obenberger said in public that women cost too much because of “child care”, health care issues, and “paying for pap smear tests”. I heard this was said at Community Skis last week. Can anyone verify this for… Read more »

Classic Obenberger
Classic Obenberger
8 years ago
Reply to  Jenn Mately

Well I have heard him make comments that women shouldn’t be in the military or law enforcement because they will cut and run. This kind of trash talk is normal for him, and Weber joins in. They always have a good laugh about it too.

Completely sickening!

Man from Mono
Man from Mono
8 years ago
Reply to  Jenn Mately

A woman Sheriff would be even better.

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago
Reply to  Jenn Mately

I am not an Obenberger fan, but I have a hard time believing he would say that at a public forum. Hopefully someone who was there can verify if this is true.

SierraFan
SierraFan
8 years ago

As native from Los Angeles and having dealt with both agencies, the LAPD is more community minded vs the LASD who are more concerned with throwing their weight around. I personally know of 5 or more in each department and the mindset as earlier described is more true than you… Read more »

Man from Mono
Man from Mono
8 years ago

It is total Amateur Hour at MCSD! How could Obenberger work at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for 15 years and never even get the lowest grade promotion to Detective? He has never had any supervision experience at LASD. How can someone like Weber, whose only work experience is working… Read more »

Michael Levine
Michael Levine
8 years ago

We had a “meet and greet” with Ingrid Braun here in Swall Meadows. I was very impressed with her communications skills and background. She spent time explaining her background and only responded about the poor management of the sheriff department when asked specific questions. A true professional. I think all… Read more »

John
John
8 years ago

I can’t state my full name because I’m too afraid to release it given the current management of the Sheriffs department and their retaliatory environment. However, Mono County is in a budget crisis and the current sheriff will not let it go that 395 is well covered by highway patrol.… Read more »

really?
really?
8 years ago

“The guys and girls are the boots on the street,” he said. “I manage them. This puts me ahead of my opponent.” Girls? Leaving aside that there aren’t any female deputies (and I can only guess why…) – GIRLS??? I’m sure you meant women. Or deputies. Or anything but a… Read more »

Reality
Reality
8 years ago

How about some real questions! About real issues! Supplemental reports that come out months later, detailing incidences that should have been identified in the original report! How about treatment of employees past and present! How about questions regarding any knowledge on how to handle disaplinary matters! At least Ingrid Braun… Read more »

Perjury
Perjury
8 years ago

Ingrid is right the public are afraid to complain. They know how vengeful he can be and that he will hold a grudge. They also know if they complain to the grand jury nothing will happen. Lots of times they will not even call for service because the are afraid… Read more »

Rick O'Brien
Rick O'Brien
8 years ago

“I MANAGE THEM “…(with a whip and CHAIR) pun intended .

Over the Berger
Over the Berger
8 years ago

It just gives me the shivers to read “I lead by example.”

It isn’t a good example that is for sure.

sugarmagnolia
sugarmagnolia
8 years ago

The more I hear from Ingrid Braun and Obenberger, the more positive I am about voting for Braun. Obenberger skirts the law. I drive on 395 A LOT, typically driving 75 mph or so. I never get pulled over, yet, tons of Burners were pulled over for things like that… Read more »

100% Correct
100% Correct
8 years ago
Reply to  sugarmagnolia

@Sugarmagnolia You are 100% correct about everything that you said in your post. You couldn’t have spelled it out any better. What Obenberger and his department are doing is illegal and he condones it! He even stated that in the Lee Vining forum. He supports his deputies actions and would… Read more »

Rick O'Brien
Rick O'Brien
8 years ago
Reply to  100% Correct

Not to mention…EVERY single time the MCSD makes a car stop on 395 involving alcohol, they have to call in Big Brother, the CHP, to handle it, tying up more resources than necessary. Leave the “highway” to the Highway Patrol. The County has over 3,000 square miles that need patrolling.