Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi indicated last week that he will not relinquish oversight of his office’s domestic violence programs, but he pledged that an undersheriff will handle disciplinary actions for any of his staffers involved in domestic violence cases.
The sheriff spelled out his position in a three-page letter to Mayor Ed Lee sent in response to the mayor and District Attorney George Gascón’s demand that he recuse himself from decisions related to his department’s domestic violence programs or to internal personnel issues related to domestic violence convictions.
Mirkarimi is on probation after pleading guilty in March to a misdemeanor charge related to a Dec. 31 incident in which he bruised his wife’s arm during an argument.
In his letter, Mirkarimi said his conviction does not present a conflict of interest as the sheriff does not charge, prosecute or change sentences of domestic violence offenders. The inmates in custody for such charges, he added, “are treated no differently than any other inmates.”
“As sheriff I have no role in the daily decisions regarding their custody and supervision,” he said.
And while Mirkarimi vowed to step aside when his staff members are accused of domestic violence, he said he will continue to “promote, enhance and seek ongoing funding for violence prevention programs, including those addressing domestic violence.”
But as sheriff, Mirkarimi added, he does not have a role in administrating those domestic violence programs.
The response did not satisfy the mayor, who is seeking legislation that would force the sheriff to redefine his role in domestic violence issues.
“It is fairly clear that the sheriff has not adequately responded to concerns about his role in administering domestic violence and the clear conflicts of interest that arise from his status as a probationer,” Lee’s spokeswoman Christine Falvey said Friday.
Mirkarimi’s letter remains “under review,” she added.
In March, Lee suspended Mirkarimi without pay just one day after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment. Subsequent efforts to permanently remove Mirkarimi as sheriff failed when only seven of the 11 members of the Board of Supervisors voted to oust him. Nine votes were needed.
Now, an effort is under way to recall Mirkarimi, who collected more than $100,000 in back pay after taking office again. The sheriff calls that effort purely political and claims a recall will needlessly cost taxpayers $3 million.