“These projects specifically are for our jail facilities, coroners-bureau, replacing some surfaces that have… are highly susceptible to bacterial, viral infections, and so that’s why they are eligible for CARES funding,” Vrooman said. During the June 8, 2021 board of supervisors meeting discussing the allocation of funds for office renovations, Undesheriff Dennis Vrooman said parts of the projects were brought before the CARES committee were it was determined that they were eligible for CARES funding. The $5 million project was funded by 50% of CARES act funds and 50% Sheriff’s Booking Recovery Fund.
The county board of supervisors allocated the funding during meetings in May and June of 2021. The funds come from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that is given to be used for “necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency.” “The fact that only extremely liberal media outlets have inquired about the ACLU’s complaint says all that needs to be said. Three completely anti law enforcement, anti Sheriff’s Department in particular, organizations have made more frivolous complaints and are counting on anti law enforcement media to fuel their demands for social justice. The County of Riverside had an exhausting process for distribution of Cares Act funding and I am extremely confident the process ensured the county operated within federal government guidelines. This frivolous, misleading, and misinformed complaint should be seen by the pubic for exactly what it is: Anti law enforcement rhetoric and a complete waste of everyone’s time. “
“Instead, in Riverside County, CARES funding is a boondoggle for a sheriff department’s office makeover,” reads an announcement by the ACLU. Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco wrote a statement in response to inquires regarding the ACLU’s complaint:
ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Riverside All of Us or None, and Starting Over Inc submitted complaints to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Inspector General, the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, and the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. The organizations ask for federal officials to recover the CARES Act funds allocated to the sheriff’s department so they can be reallocated to services and programs specifically related to the pandemic. Bianco continued, “And then also with the camera systems, is the outside access, if we ever did have to go to a lockdown again, well then we’re not going to let them in the building, we can engage with them outside through the camera system, through the speaker systems and we can still take care of our really most vulnerable sick people who are our victims rather than the criminals.”
“It certainly is a very good use of CARES Act funding, not only for the deputies, but for the criminals that we are arresting and the inmates that we are housing,” Bianco told Supervisors. “You’re not gonna give me money to pay somebody to be by our doors to wipe down those key pads every time we use.” Sheriff Bianco spoke to the Board of Supervisors about the funding for its key card/video camera systems during the May 25, 2021 meeting.
The News Highlights
- The ACLU files a federal complaint regarding the allocation of COVID relief funds to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
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