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.

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17 Responses to MCSO candidates talk issues

  1. Mono Misogynist May 9, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    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 authority. He also can’t stand to be questioned by women.

    This is also why he refers to the women that work in his department as “girls” and makes other sorted comments that are completely offensive in regards to women. He likes to make it clear to them on a daily basis exactly what “their place” is supposed to be!

  2. Jenn Mately May 8, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    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 us?
    I truly hope he doesn’t feel that way. Women deputies would benefit the MCSO.

    • Classic Obenberger May 9, 2014 at 6:58 am #

      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 May 9, 2014 at 9:30 am #

      A woman Sheriff would be even better.

    • sugar magnolia May 9, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

      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.

  3. SierraFan May 7, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    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 could imagine. Ingrid Braun will bring and is showing her true LAPD professionalism! ANYONE with the teaching from the LASD should never be in charge here in the Mono County unless we are looking for more iron fist or Stalin like leadership.

  4. Man from Mono May 7, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    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 in the small community of June Lake, become the Assistant Sheriff? His only claim to fame is being the Mini-Me of Dan Paranick.

    Mono County deserves much better than these two legends in their own minds.

    Braun has actually moved up the promotional ladder in a large agency with a lot of competition, working as a Detective, Sergeant and Lieutenant in several different police jobs.

    The fact that three different superior court judges, two of them local, have ruled against cases that Obenberger and Weber both have had some level supervisiory responsibility in, speaks volumes.

    The fact that Obenberger doubles down on stupid and essentially says the judges are wrong and he is right, proves he is totally incompetent.

  5. Michael Levine May 7, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    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 of us were very impressed!

  6. John May 7, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    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. This guy just doesn’t get it, his department needs to be in the communities. If they can be on 395, then they have too many officers out in saturation patrol. Just drive 395 in mono county, you will see a highway patrol then sheriff, then highway patrol again. It’s a saturation patrol! It’s okay though, he will have plenty of time to think about it after june 3. By the way, how much are all of these lawsuits regarding poor decisions by the sheriff going to cost us mono county taxpayers in payouts?

  7. really? May 7, 2014 at 6:43 am #

    “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 diminutive, patronizing, misogynistic term like “girls” to describe professional female employees. Right?

    Geez, Ingrid, what are you thinking, trying to be Sheriff? Don’t you know that you should be home barefoot and pregnant?

  8. Reality May 6, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

    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 knows about the COPS program that has been around for almost two decades and taught in every academy in California! Guess Ralph missed that day!

    Come on citizens of mono county! Wake up! Ask yourself have things been going well with the sheriffs department during the last two years! Or let’s go back a bit further! How many grand jury reports over deputy misconduct? How many lawsuits? How many employees have left the department!

    I believe it’s a time for change! We deserve professional men and women in the sheriffs department! Or do you want “guys and girls”!

    At this point, I know who is not the right ” man” for the job!

  9. Perjury May 6, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

    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 of who might show up.

    This is not a people’s department in my opinion! It is a travesty and a disgrace!

  10. Rick O'Brien May 6, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

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

  11. Over the Berger May 6, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

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

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

  12. sugarmagnolia May 6, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    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 or even less…because they were easily identified as on their way to Burning Man. Just like what happened with the guy at the hot springs…they figure there is a good chance someone has been drinking or might be carrying illegal drugs and they find a reason to pull them over. THAT IS WRONG AND ILLEGAL IN OUR COUNTRY!

    For him to blantantly lie that them driving to burning man had no bearing on them being pulled over is disgusting… of course he has to lie, to say what they actually did would be an admission of unconstitutional, illegal behavior!

    Other LEO do this too, I’ve been pulled over coming off the hot springs road ‘because my tail light looked dim’…funny, it was fine when I looked at it! I had not been at the springs at all, but got pulled over for a made up reason because LEO felt the odds were good that I had been at the springs and been drinking. (no ticket was issued) Again, that is not right people. BUT other LEO don’t do a ‘saturation’ patrol blatantly pulling people over illegally.

    That’s the same as LEO to coming into your house to look for drugs because you wear tie dye! Or coming into your house to search for illegal or unregistered guns because they know you are a hunter.

    This man has lost sight of his role…he has lost sight of our country’s constitution…he has lost sight of what is wrong and right.

    Scary is what he is.

    • 100% Correct May 7, 2014 at 9:00 am #


      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 not have done anything differently. He couldn’t have said it any clearer. He is not upholding the laws or the constitution that he took an oath to uphold!

      He should be terminated or under investigation right now, not running for sheriff! If he were an employee of a real sheriff’s department he would probably already be fired for his actions and the actions of his subordinates.

      He has been allowed free reign for so long he thinks he is above the law and can do anything with “his” department as he pleases. Just look at what he did when he marched the minions before the board of supervisors when they asked some simple questions. Just look at how he punished one of his deputies. Just look at his continuous lies he tells. These are just a few of the examples that we know about. Can you even imagine how many things have went on that people are just too afraid to speak up?

      He is off the hook and it will only get worse if he is elected June 3rd. Please everyone pay attention and vote this man out of office!

      • Rick O'Brien May 7, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

        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.


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