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One year in, new sheriff Bell deserves kudos, encouragement

By: Journal Staff
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When longtime Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner retired this month last year, we knew there were some huge duty boots that would have to be filled.

Bonner was not only respected in statewide, he was, in many ways, a beloved presence in Placer County — an approachable law enforcement leader who had kept justice and safety at the forefront.  

As the Sheriff’s Office approaches the first anniversary of the swearing in of Bonner’s hand-picked successor Devon Bell, the “new sheriff in town” deserves praise for filling the footwear and providing continued stability to the post during the first year in office.

Over the past year, Bell didn’t step into a cushy “turn-key” operation. Far from it.

Challenges regarding major criminal investigations and community policing are omnipresent. Then there were troubling jail-abuse allegations that were investigated and sent to the District Attorney’s Office for eventual prosecution. Those cases, involving three Sheriff’s Office jail employees at the time, are now moving through the court system. Civil cases involving alleged victims are being handled by the Placer County Counsel’s Office.

Bell’s steady hand on the rudder is already gaining recognition.

In December, Bell was the recipient of the California Association of Tactical Officers 2017 Daryl F. Gates Memorial Law Enforcement Executive of the Year Award — a testament to the respect he’s gained in the short time he’s served as sheriff. He received the award for his support of the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team.

According to the description that accompanies the award, Bell was also honored for his leadership and treatment of individual members with dignity, courtesy and respect knowing they are tasked with extreme danger and the most difficult situations.

As well, Bell’s support of special weapons and tactics in Placer County has raised the professional bar in training and tactical response, the award citation states.

Bell took over the post in late February 2017, weeks after Bonner announced he would be stepping down for non-life-threatening health reasons from the sheriff’s role he has held since 1994.

Bell has served with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office since 1992 He was promoted to the rank of undersheriff — the office’s second in command — in 2007. Like Bonner, Bell grew up in Loomis and graduated from Del Oro High School.

Stepping into the sheriff’s position, he was seasoned by years of duty and knowledgeable of the local community.

Bell has now assembled a team of officers with recent promotions announced in several key posts. With no challengers in sight and an election coming, the new sheriff could very well be in a position to stand unopposed.

An election challenge in our democracy is always a welcome sign of healthy debate and introspection for any elected official. Bell has the head start though. He’s shown he can provide continuing leadership during his first year for many more to come.

It’s a good beginning. We can encourage Placer County’s sheriff to  keep up the good work. Placer County deserves and demands it.