Jim Roache, a captain in the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and a member of the San Diego Unified School Board, opened his campaign for sheriff Tuesday, saying he wants to restore "openness and community consensus" to an office held 20 years by John Duffy.
"The sheriff is arrogant and unapproachable, and those same traits have been picked up and passed on to other people in the organization," he said of his boss, Duffy. "And you cannot have a government-service organization that distances itself from the people it serves."
Roache indicated several months ago that he was interested in waging a campaign to unseat Duffy, who plans to seek reelection next year. But Roache first was forced to obtain a court order striking down a department provision preventing staff members from running against the incumbent sheriff.
In a press conference outside the Board of Education office, Roache listed many problems facing the Sheriff's Department, including the crowded jails, increased drug activity in the county and public criticism about Duffy's management style. He noted a county Grand Jury report that last year sharply chastised Duffy's leadership for not preventing the mistreatment of jail inmates.
"The result?" Roache asked. "Chronic overcrowding, sagging deputy morale and a jail system which has become a revolving door for San Diego criminals. This created a time bomb which finally exploded last year.
"The inmates, the deputies and the public have become the victims of this mismanagement."
Roache, 44, has held numerous positions in the Sheriff's Department since 1971, from serving as a deputy in Poway to being the facility commander of the Central Jail and to his current post as supervisor of the Lemon Grove station.
Duffy, who has repeatedly indicated that he plans to file next year for an unprecedented sixth term in office, has not yet formally announced his candidacy. Two other candidates have emerged, however.