Since 2020 at least two editorial teams, the Black Voice News and the IE Voice, have waived red flags about the dysfunctional leadership of Riverside County’s Constitutional Sheriff, Chad Bianco.
At the same time, many local organizations coalesced and called for the California state attorney general to intervene and investigate Bianco. Also, on Tuesday, January 25, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice is investigating and will independently review an officer-involved shooting (OIS) that occurred in Hemet on Tuesday, January 18.
Now, other publications including the Orange County Register and the San Bernardino Sun, have published op-eds by the ACLU calling for Bianco to be investigated for his rogue leadership and the failures of the sheriff’s department entrusted to his care by Riverside County voters following reports of unprecedented police shootings in the county last year.
Readers who follow this story have read about his antics, ad nauseum. Commentaries include an ever-growing list of unbelievable but true actions that makes any reasonable person wonder whether Bianco is really that obtuse or just blatantly doesn’t give “two cents” about what many constituents in Riverside County think about his leadership. Does he really believe he is untouchable or has he wrapped himself so tightly in a shield of right-wing ideology that he thinks his position is impenetrable.
For some in the community it was not enough that he apparently ascribed to what appeared to be a quid pro quo having stood as a bulwark against most reasonable efforts aimed at local police reform even though he disingenuously took a knee during a demonstration in downtown Riverside during the Uprising of 2020. Local residents participated in the movement sincerely, demanding reform in the wake of George Floyd’s unconscionable murder at the hands of Minnesota police. Was taking a knee that day just a folly on his part?
His lack of support for local change by the sheriff’s department in the wake of those demonstrations begged the question - was his resistance to change his way of maintaining fiscal support from his campaign benefactors—police associations, who also resist most – but not all change.
Many have held their tongues regarding Bianco’s failure to protect local jail inmates from the ravages of COVID-19 until the federal government stepped in and demanded change. Although many reported on the issue, few, if any offered an opinion.
While many also reported on his railings against state mandates designed to keep residents safe and curb the spread of COVID-19 during the worse periods of the virus’s spread, few editorial pages raised concerns over what such actions could mean for the vulnerable, the aged and others who suffered and died in this county from the virus while Bianco remained cavalier about such protections. Wasn’t he elected to keep the community safe? The same can be said regarding his publicly expressed and dismissive attitude related to masks and the COVID-19 vaccine.
Bianco’s overt penchant for nepotism - hiring his daughter and promoting his brother—twice—over others who were purportedly more qualified has barely been reported on even though it is a clear violation of the county charter as well as state and federal guidelines.
Many also remained silent as Bianco, again, in clear violation of local, state and federal regulations, pranced around the county, speaking at Republican political gatherings while dressed in full uniform as if he were on official sheriff department business.
Although many reported on revelations late last year of his membership in the right-wing extremist group the Oath Keepers including his marble-mouthed explanation for joining such an organization. The Oath Keepers are being investigated for its role in attempting to overthrow the U.S. government in January 2020. Yet, few, if any, local publications have offered editorial commentary on how such a membership could be reflective of Bianco’s personal ideology or its racist implications.
Now, data reveals the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department under Bianco’s stewardship ended the year 2021 with the highest number of citizens killed by Riverside County deputies in recorded history. I know we will hear the usual defense about rising crime, but rising crime is no excuse for Riverside deputies who purportedly shot about 30, apparently, unarmed citizens.
Poor leadership is one way to define Bianco’s work since he took office, incompetent could be another. If however what we have witnessed is the result of neither, I shudder to think that what we are experiencing under his leadership of the sheriff’s department might be intentional.
As noted, organizations across the county have cried out for an investigation into Chad Bianco and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. The Black Voice News and IE Voice editorial team has remained critical of Bianco and called out his failures at nearly every opportunity.
We celebrate other publications for not only reporting on Bianco’s failures but for also being willing to publish the voices of those those calling for an official investigation.
Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.