San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner John McMahon, middle, faces challengers Clifton Harris, left, and Paul Schrader, right, during the June election.

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 05/28/14, 3:56 PM PDT | Updated: 3 hrs ago

Three veteran lawmen are vying for San Bernardino County Sheriff, each bringing with their experience their own ideas of how best to serve the public.

On June 3, voters will decide which two will face off in the November 4 general election.

John McMahon, a 29-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department and current Sheriff, said he will continue pushing to meet the demand of a swelling inmate population at the county jails due to prison realignment and help make a dent in the county’s homeless population, especially homeless veterans. He also promises to make it easier for county residents to obtain concealed weapons permits, so long as they pass a background check.

Clifford Harris, a retired deputy who worked for both the San Bernardino and Riverside county sheriff’s departments, believes in more community outreach and establishing a civil rights commission to keep deputies in line.

And Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy and Rancho Cucamonga resident Paul Schrader, who is calling himself the “Constitutional Sheriff,” also promises to make it easier for people to obtain concealed weapons permits, and will require all deputies to have video cameras clipped to their uniforms to reduce the number of frivolous allegations and lawsuits filed against the Sheriff’s Department for civil rights violations.

McMahon, 50, began his career with the department when he was 21 and worked his way up the ranks to executive staff. In 2012 he was appointed sheriff following the abrupt departure of Rod Hoops, who recommended McMahon.

McMahon said his extensive experience as both a deputy and supervisor, make him the ideal candidate for the job.

“Because of my experience in dealing with large-scale events and critical events, I am in a better position to deal with any event that faces law enforcement or public safety in general in the county,” McMahon said. He cited the February 2013 Big Bear Lake area manhunt and deadly standoff near Angelus Oaks with former Los Angeles Police Officer Christopher Dorner.

McMahon said he has met with state legislators to ensure funding continues to flow in to address the growing inmate population at the jails.

The recent expansion of the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto will provide some relief as funding becomes available to fully staff the jail and move in more inmates, but the goal needs to be to cut recidivism by expanding alcohol and drug treatment programs and helping probationers earn their GEDs, McMahon said.

“The overall goal is clearly to break the cycle and reach those inmates who are willing to make a change …” McMahon said.

McMahon has remained unflappable in the wake of an FBI investigation into alleged abuse by deputies at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. He praises the jail as first rate and says the allegations stem from an isolated incident or incidents in one unit of the jail.

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