Conflict of Interest For Sheriff John Anderson To Nail Drunk Drivers? Print
News - Opinion
Written by B|V|N Newsroom   
Monday, 13 June 2011 21:48
Another Exclusive Big Valley News Editorial

Madera County
Saturday night while I was driving west on Avenue 12 in Madera County I came across a drunk driver near the Madera Center. I called 911 to alert the California Highway Patrol. On the first call the phone disconnected on the transfer. On the second call I received a recorded message and was put on hold.

While on hold the drunk driver turned off of Avenue 12 and started heading in the direction of the Madera County Sheriff’s Department so I called them directly only to hear the dispatcher say “We do not handle traffic or drunk drivers. We send those to the CHP.”

Now some of you may remember five years ago my then wife (now ex-wife) was involved in a traffic accident on Avenue 17 near Melba Drive. Some guy slammed his truck into the back of her stopped vehicle at forty miles per hour.  A deputy stopped, asked her if she was ok, and then left her on the side of the road with the unlicensed, undocumented, uninsured man that slammed into her car.

She called me crying about the accident and the pain. She couldn’t believe the deputy left her on the side of the road. I called the sheriff’s department and the dispatcher said they cleared the call. I asked her why they didn’t dispatch an ambulance and she said the deputy cleared the call but she would transfer me to the CHP. The CHP was involved in a drunk driving arrest on the other side of the county and would take over a half hour to respond.

Despite my pleas the Madera County Sheriff’s Dispatcher refused to send out an ambulance to the accident or resend the deputy. My answer to her was “Get a F-ING ambulance to my wife you b!@&ch.

Ok, not really the Christian thing to say to the lady but I have my wife crying on one phone that she is alone on the side of the road with the person that hit her and someone on the other phone who can send help but is refusing to because of the departments policies.

I finally called the Madera Police Department and explained what was happening and their dispatcher got an ambulance to my wife and she was taken to the hospital. By the time I got to the scene CHP was there as well as the Commander for the Madera CHP Unit.

CHP officers arrested the driver and took him to jail. The Madera County Sheriff’s Department had no concern for my wife despite the fact the trunk of her car was now in the backseat. The accident was so bad, had anyone been in the backseat they would have been dead, but the deputy left her on the side of the road because the Madera County Sheriff’s Department does not handle traffic or accidents.

Well Saturday night was deja-vu all over again. Here we have a car that was swerving from side to side. The car nearly took out the medium in front of the college. It got so bad I turned on my emergency lights and the car pulled over. The driver was so drunk he thought the California Highway Patrol was now driving mini-vans. At that point we were near Caesar Chavez Elementary School and I told the sheriff’s dispatcher just send an officer over they are pulled over.

For my safety I was over a hundred yards away. I never got to close to the drunk driver, in fact when he stopped I backed up and just observed. The whole incident took probably five minutes but the dispatcher kept sending me to the CHP who wasn’t answering their phone and then when they finally did, they had no idea where the landmarks were I was giving her, then the drunk driver took off into the night.

But I was less than two miles from the Madera County Sheriff’s Department.

Before we elected Sheriff John Anderson our sheriff department did handle traffic, accidents and drunk drivers. Now Anderson sends all that to his old department, the California Highway Patrol.

Of course when he wrecked his department issue truck on a dry and clear day, the SO handled that accident. There was no blood alcohol test for that accident and we are just suppose to take Anderson’s word and we will never know what really happened that day.

But for everyone else in the county, the sheriff’s department does not investigate nor handle traffic accidents or drunk drivers. Is it a conflict of interest because our sheriff is a convicted drunk driver?

Why won’t the Madera County Sheriff’s Department prioritize arresting drunk drivers in our county? Something needs to change and we can’t wait until the next election.