Local Police Chief, County Sheriff Candidate, Visits Westmont

By Maddon Hoh-Choi

On September 14, former Palo Alto Chief of Police and candidate for County Sheriff, Bob Jonsen, visited Westmont High. A joint event planned by the College and Career Center and Civic Leadership Club, Jonsen took questions from both club members and the audience. He spoke at the library about his plans for the sheriff candidate, why he’s a better choice than his opponent, and police careers. 

Who is Bob Jonsen?

Jonsen happily noted that his family has a long history of police work. First settling in Santa Clara County in the 1850s, Jonsen’s great-great Uncle was County Sheriff in 1887. With his father being a San Francisco police officer in the 1960s, Jonsen grew up in the North Bay. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles in 1983, and decided to join the L.A. Sheriff’s office at the age of 22. Eventually, he retired from the L.A. department to become Chief of Police at Menlo Park. He served for five years until he became Chief at Palo Alto. During this time, he also worked to get a college education, getting a masters degree at Woodbury University. 

Why is he running for Sheriff?

Jonsen believes that the Sheriff’s office needs someone capable of handling the variety of issues it faces: budget issues, staffing challenges, and more. Jonsen stated that the office of Sheriff is one of the “most critical roles in the county,” and the stakes of this election makes it too important for any Santa Clara County resident to not vote. 

His plans for the Sheriff office: 

Jonsen believes in investing in new technology to make communications and transfers between local police departments and the County Sheriff’s office more efficient. He believes that the CARE Court legislation recently signed by Governor Newsom is a unique opportunity for Santa Clara County to address mental illness and help serve its unhoused population. Finally, Jonsen emphasized his support for police transparency and accountability. 

Jonsen v Jensen: 

Jonsen is locked in a close race with his rival, former Sheriff Captain, Kevin Jensen (There have been numerous jokes about the name similarities). At the Westmont event, Jonsen forcefully called out Jensen’s most powerful supporters: the county’s police unions. Jonsen repeated that he believes the Sheriff’s office should be beholden to the people, not its officers. 

Watch a full recording of the event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzYW2QaDq1s