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9 finalists in line for O.C. sheriff's job

The county's acting sheriff and Santa Ana's police chief are among those seeking to replace Carona.

May 10, 2008|Christian Berthelsen and Stuart Pfeifer | Times Staff Writers

A national recruiting firm has recommended nine finalists to replace disgraced former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona -- all but one from Southern California.

Among the finalists are acting Sheriff Jack Anderson -- Carona's hand-picked successor -- and three candidates who ran unsuccessful campaigns against Carona in 2006: former Orange County Sheriff's Lt. William Hunt, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Cmdr. Ralph Martin and longtime Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters.

Carona resigned in January to focus his attention on his upcoming corruption trial. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to interview the finalists at a public meeting May 27 and appoint the new sheriff June 3.

Supervisors hired the recruiting firm Bob Murray and Associates, which interviewed 17 of 48 applicants and forwarded its list of finalists to the board, according to a report released Friday.

Sandra Hutchens, a retired division chief for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, is the lone woman in the field. She served four years as director of the department's Office of Homeland Security, overseeing more than 1,000 employees, before retiring last year.

Despite a nationwide search, the only finalist from outside Southern California is Beau Babka, undersheriff of Salt Lake County in Utah.

Babka became undersheriff in December 2006 after more than 15 years with the Salt Lake City Police Department, rising from patrol officer to chief of police.

Among the accomplishments he cited were successfully lobbying for new jail construction. That experience could be useful in Orange County, where the board has been trying to jump-start the long-delayed expansion of the James A. Musick jail near Irvine.

The other finalists are Glendale Police Chief Randy Adams, San Bernardino County Undersheriff Richard Beemer and Craig Hunter, deputy chief of the Anaheim Police Department.

Adams has been Glendale's chief since 2003, supervising more than 500 employees and a $63-million budget. He was police chief of Simi Valley from 1995 to 2003.

Beemer started with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department in 1973 and worked his way up from a jail deputy to serve as a detective and oversee the internal affairs division, among other assignments.

As the department's second in command, he helps manage 3,645 employees and a $420-million budget.

Hunter, who joined the Anaheim Police Department in 1982, has served the last year as deputy chief. He oversees more than 600 employees and a $114-million budget.

"I think the field is fine," said John Moorlach, chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. "I think we have some very strong candidates here, some that will be real interesting to see how they perform once we interview them."

Wayne Quint, president of the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, said morale among deputies slipped considerably after Carona's indictment last year and the release of a grand jury investigation that criticized the department's management of its largest jail.

The selection of a new sheriff could mark the first step toward improving morale, he said.

"Whoever they select," Quint said, "I hope they put public safety ahead of politics."

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christian.berthelsen@latimes.com

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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