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Sheriff Steve Bernal says goodbye to Monterey County

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION-TV)- Sheriff Steve Bernal has served the people of Monterey County for the past eight years as sheriff. Friday, Dec. 30, he will retire after more than 20 years of service as a peace officer.

Sheriff Bernal spoke with our Scott Rates on his career and what it has meant to be Sheriff of Monterey County.


When I announced a year ago that I was retiring, I was wondering if I was going to have second thoughts this time. You know, this time around, this time of year. And I really don't. It's the best decision. We've accomplished a lot over the last eight years. 


Let's talk about some of the accomplishments over the years here. As sheriff, if you look back and you could pick two or three of your biggest accomplishments, what would they be?


The little things. I think when I became sheriff, we had we had a shortage of patrol vehicles. You know, we were waiting for other deputies to come in so we can have a vehicle to go out and patrol. We had probably about 15 cars sitting out in the parking lot, brand new cars sitting out in the parking lot that didn't have the lights and sirens or radios, and we didn't have the funding to put them in. So now we have funding available to wear a car when, at times out we rotate that car out of the fleet, and then we have a new car waiting for them to replace it.

We did a similar program with our radios. We had over 270 high-definition cameras in the older part of the jail. We added registered nurses, 24-seven, in the facility. It's a safer facility now than it was years ago, especially in the new jail expansion that we have.

So it's little things like that that that, you know, little victories, biggest challenges is trying to work. For me, it was trying to work with the Board of Supervisors, to be real honest with you, and ask you about that. And, you know, it's been a challenge for me.

You know, it's no secret that they censured me a couple of years ago because of a conference we had here as soon as the Big Sur, the day the Big Sur marathon moved out of town, probably a good 350 to 400 people came into town for the sheriff’s conference, spent well over hundreds of thousands of dollars here into the economy. And the Board of Supervisors censured me for four employees that I used that they didn't think I needed here at the conference. 

Read more: Board of Supervisors censures Monterey County Sheriff for alleged ‘inappropriate expenditures’


Do you think it was a political stunt on their part? The Board of Supervisors?


I think so, yes. 


What was their motive? What was their reasoning? 


I don't know. I don't know.

I accepted it. If that's what they want to do, you know that they want to censure me for that. Fine. It's a piece of paper that says that they didn't approve of what I did. I think they figured it up somewhere in the area of $20,000. That's what I heard. And we brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars into the economy.

And then, a supervisor goes out a month later and gets a DUI. And we hear nothing from the board of supervisors about somebody who commits a misdemeanor.


Any regrets looking back on your time here? 


No. Regrets? None. You know, I'm sure there's little regrets here and there. But for the most part, you know, when you look at the big picture, there's none. I'm glad I did it. I think we accomplished a lot we got a lot done. We did a lot of positive things. 


What would I guess your message be to the folks who have worked for you for so long here?


You know, I'm just I'm proud of the work they've done, the people that come and work day in and day out. I've had a good run here at the Sheriff's Office. 

Sheriff-Elect Tina Nieto is slated to take over as the 32nd Sheriff of Monterey County on Friday at 5:01 p.m.

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Scott Rates


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