John Mutz aims for systemic change in sheriff department
John Mutz, a 25-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department and five-year resident of west Sonoma County is one of five candidates running for Sonoma County Sheriff. Primary elections are not until June 2018, but already, the race to replace the legacy of recently retired Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas and current Sheriff Rob Giordano is heating up. Mutz sat down with Sonoma West Publishers to talk about his experience in law enforcement and what he could bring to the table as the new county sheriff.
Q. What brought you to Sonoma County?
A: We moved here five years ago. We came for the Waldorf schools. It was the right time, as our boys are now 7 and 10 years old. I changed offices with Wright Management Company and began work out of the San Francisco site.
Q. What is your experience?
[From Mutz’ campaign website: Mutz has experience as a station commander in the Los Angeles Police Department. During his 25-year tenure with LAPD, Mutz worked as a field training officer, patrol deputy, narcotics investigator, homicide and sex crime investigator, aide to commanding officer, watch commander, patrol commanding officer, bureau commanding officer and station commander. He is currently a mediator and trainer with Wright Management.]
A: As a station commander, I worked to make improvements in stations that had issues or where damage to the relationship with the community had been done. I worked to create a conversation that would lead to a change in policing. From the law enforcement perspective we asked, “What can we do?” From the community’s point of view, we asked, “How do we get them to be more open to the community?” I was [at LAPD] during Rodney King. It served as a breakdown that commanded systemic change within the department.
Now I work as a mediator and executive coach. I am a resource for law enforcement and community leaders. I’ve been brought around the nation to places like Ferguson where horrendous events have happened. I work with departments to change the way police officers are managed. We work to coach them more instead of command them. Many, not all, but many respond well.
Q. What made you want to run for Sheriff?
I have young boys and this is my county.
Long story short: A group asked me to run. I told them no, no, no. We looked for a candidate but none came up so they asked me again and I said ok.
I see myself as a Jerry Brown. This isn’t going to be a career for me. I want to come in, make the changes and set up the system so it can continue. I have significant experience and success doing it.
Q. What would the community expect with you as Sheriff?
The sense of mission in terms of the priority of keeping the community safe — that wouldn’t change. It’s how we do that through relationships that would change. We would have new metrics that measure community satisfaction that would tell us how we are doing.
There’s another part, too. Sonoma County is noted for our environmental consciousness, our deeper sense of social justice and our consciousness around food. It only makes sense to look at law enforcement and see if the department is representative of our values and principles.
Q. How will you work with the current Sheriff’s Department?
I think the only way to make a systemic change like this is for the sheriff to lead. We need to give the department the right tools so that change can happen.
Q. What do you do in your free time?
I spend time with my boys. We like to go camping at Johnson’s Beach. It’s a great beach and we love the river. We also hike and ride bicycles and I was assistant coach of my oldest’s baseball team. I like to give workshops and talks, but I don’t have as much time for that with the campaign going on.