There are six candidates running for sheriff. What makes you stand out above the others?
“I was born and raised in Nogales and I’ve also worked in the ranching community, both in the Nogales area and in the east county, so I’m familiar with the economic and cultural issues for different parts of the county. And I can also relate to all levels of law enforcement, whether it be state, county, city, federal or international — I’ve worked with Mexican law enforcement authorities as well,” Hathaway said.
“I want to undo the stigma associated with our community, especially with the border, so I think that might be something unique about me, about my priorities,” he added.
The sheriff is responsible for the county jail. What will your approach be to running the jail, and what changes to current operations do you plan to make?
“Regarding the jail, the biggest problem right now is they’re very short staffed on detention officers. They have one-third of the people on staff for the positions that are allotted, so it’s become a security issue in the jail and they are actually bringing patrol deputies in off the street at a higher salary to work as detention officers,” Hathaway said.
Noting the high cost of building the jail, he said: “Even though I never would have built that jail, it is something that the sheriff will have to deal with and the number one problem is hiring and retaining more detention officers.”
What ideas do you have for recruiting and retaining both new deputies and new detention staff?
“Regarding detention officers, we have a problem where we have recruited from a younger population. They get in there, they get some experience and then they want to move on to patrol functions or to work for other agencies,” he said. “One idea I have is to recruit from the population that has a few more years under their belt – people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s that would be willing to work several years in the jail and not looking to immediately leave.”
As for recruiting/retaining patrol deputies, he said: “We need to make it a fun place to work again, and to have the officers have clear instructions of what’s expected of them,” adding that the effects of the economic downturn will have a lot to say about future recruiting efforts at the Sheriff’s Office.
How would you describe your fluency in Spanish?
“I use Spanish every day in my life,” he said, noting his experience growing up and working in Nogales, as well as working in law enforcement in Spanish-speaking countries and communities. “I consider myself very fluent in reading, writing and speaking the language.”
You are running as a Democrat. Do you feel that party affiliation is something that voters ought to take into account when choosing a sheriff candidate?
“The sheriff needs to represent everybody in the county – all parties and even those that have no party affiliation and even those who do not vote,” he said, calling the partisan nature of judicial and law enforcement elections in Arizona “kind of an unfortunate aspect.”
Hathaway said he speaks to all political groups “to make it clear that I support all groups and that the party label doesn’t indicate a preference for one demographic or for one portion of society.”
Sheriff Estrada has long been an outspoken counterbalance to others in law enforcement and political office who portray the border as a dangerous place, and he is often critical of the militarization of the border. Would you take a similar role?
“Yes, I totally would. Sheriff Estrada has done a fantastic job of portraying our communities as safe communities with low crime statistics, and that is very true,” he said. “I would continue to talk about our border being a safe place and I dislike the negative imagery of the concertina wire along the border, and I don’t like when Washington-level politicians come to our community and talk about doom and gloom and crisis-mongering.”
There’s a lot of mistrust of the police right now in the United States, especially when it comes to the policing of minority-majority communities. The community oriented policing model is not a cornerstone of federal law enforcement, which is where your recent experience has been. What would you do to maintain community trust in the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office?
“I would encourage outreach from the deputies to be involved, even while they’re on their official time, conducting their official duties, to be involved with community activities and to assign liaison officers to community groups to let it be known that the sheriff’s department is not there to hide behind a bush and give you a speeding ticket. They’re not there to tell you how to live your life. But they are there to help and assist with the economic activities, the social activities of the community,” he said.
“Law enforcement officers should be peace officers, and when we talk about law enforcement committing crimes, they should be held accountable just like private citizens should be held accountable when they commit crimes,” he added.
There’s a good possibility that Arizona voters will legalize recreational marijuana in November. Considering your DEA background, if you are elected and recreational marijuana is legalized, what will your messaging to the community be in regard to marijuana?
Noting that more than half of U.S. states have now legalized recreational or medicinal marijuana, Hathaway said: “It’s a changing world … If it becomes legalized, I would definitely support that and I wouldn’t do any kind of a tacit enforcement against something that’s been made legal.”
Is there anything that we haven’t touched on about you, your candidacy or any particular policy ideas that you have that you would like the readers to know about?
“Most importantly, I want to be an ambassador for the county as a safe place to live, and to visit and to do business,” he said, noting that the county has a “willing workforce,” but a high unemployment rate, and that residents like himself want the county to be a place where their children and grandchildren can find work.
“I don’t want to be a fear-mongering sheriff,” he said. “Some sheriffs are always trying to talk about a crisis and about fear. I want to be the opposite. I want to be upbeat and optimistic about our community.”