Nevada County sheriff’s candidates talk marijuana, body cameras | TheUnion.com

Nevada County sheriff’s candidates talk marijuana, body cameras

The usual topics — concealed carry weapons and gun safety — appeared quickly at a Tuesday night forum for Nevada County sheriff's candidates.

But it was cannabis that warranted three successive questions for former Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster, sheriff's Capt. Shannan Moon and sheriff's Executive Lt. Bill Smethers.

Answering a question about resident-initiated cannabis complaints versus those started by deputies, Smethers said deputies have responded to a citizen complaint and then addressed a nearby violation they spotted once at the scene. He added that his office must address the quality of life for both growers and neighbors.

"I have seen the large, commercial-type grows and the destruction it's done to our community," Smethers said.

Moon said law enforcement must recognize when the law changes, pointing to game-changing Propositions 215 and 64. She wants a new county cultivation ordinance to be clear and enforceable.

"When the law changes, our policies change," she said.

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Foster said he wants deputies to target grows linked to cartels. He also said he'd form an advisory board that would share community concerns and frustrations.

"I'm going to get the cannabis alliance to help me," Foster said.

Fielding a question about how they'd respond if federal agents descended on Nevada County, the candidates appeared in sync.

Foster cited his relationship with the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, saying he'd accept federal assistance to remove cartel grows.

Moon pointed to the Board of Supervisors' efforts to craft a permanent cultivation ordinance. Local resources must go toward criminal activity, she said.

Smethers said few cases warranted federal intervention in his time on the Narcotics Task Force. He said if the federal government intends to interfere with county residents who obey state and local law, he would intercede on locals' behalf.

Body cams

Moderating the forum hosted by the Nevada County Democrats, YubaNet editor Pascale Fusshoeller asked the candidates their position on body cams for deputies.

Moon said they're needed for officer and community safety, saying the cameras change people's behavior for the better.

"Body-worn cameras do provide better safety," Moon said.

Foster said he would bring body cams to the Sheriff's Office.

"It's a tool," he said. "It's a resource."

Calling the body cams important, Smethers said the Sheriff's Office employs many more people than other local agencies that already use the cameras. He questioned how his office would obtain the funding for the devices.

Addressing concealed carry permits, all candidates said they'd continue to issue them. All also pointed to California's strict gun laws when asked their position on high-capacity magazines.

"High-capacity magazines are outlawed in the state of California," Foster said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

KNow & Go

What: Public forum for Nevada County sheriff’s race

When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. today

Where: Science Lecture Hall at Nevada Union High School, 11761 Ridge Road, Grass Valley. The lecture hall is by the library, near Ridge Road.