SAN DIEGO – The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to select Anthony Ray to serve as the county’s interim sheriff.
Ray, an assistant county sheriff, was selected from a pool of three finalists to serve as a temporary replacement for Bill Gore, who retired from the role last month after previously announcing he would not seek reelection for a fourth term.
The decision came Tuesday after Ray and the other two finalists, Michael Barletta and Edwin Brock, held a forum with the board. They each previously were interviewed by the body March 15.
“I believe that an organization reflects its leadership,” Ray told the board Tuesday prior to the vote. “A good leader, good organization; poor leader, poor organization. I believe that when you want people to have character, treat people with dignity and respect, your leadership has to be the same way. The message has to be driven all the way down.”
In his application for the role, Ray called himself “a leader of leaders.” He touted his more than 30 years of experience with the sheriff’s department, saying he believes in “strong community partnerships, commitment to public safety and continuing organizational education and improvement.”
He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix, his resume shows. He also completed a general course of instruction at the FBI National Academy in 2015.
Speaking to the board, Ray added that one of his focuses serving in the interim will be community outreach “to prove to folks that we really want to do a good job.”
“People expect more of us, being peace officers,” he said. “We’re held to a higher standard and if we’re not worthy of that higher standard, people are not gonna respect any of us. We could have 4,699 people do a great job, but if one person does something bad, it reflects on all of us.
“We have to manage ourselves, care for ourselves and care for our community.”
Following the vote, Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher congratulated Ray and thanked Barletta and Brock for their “grace and dignity by which you handled this process.”
“We know we have a lot of work left to do,” Fletcher said. “Now we have to continue that work as we move ahead.”
In a tweet, Supervisor Jim Desmond wrote that he’s “confident Sheriff Ray will keep San Diego County one of the safest in the country.”
“While all candidates were well qualified, this was the most seamless transition until the voters choose their next sheriff,” Desmond said.
Pending the results of a background screening, Ray will serve through November with an election to fill the job full-time upcoming. Thus far, seven candidates are slated to be on the ballot. They are:
- Undersheriff Kelly Martinez;
- Former sheriff’s Cmdr. David Myers;
- Assistant San Diego City Attorney John Hemmerling;
- Retired sheriff’s Sgt. Charles “Chuck” Battle;
- Police Capt. John “Gundo” Gunderson;
- Combat infantry Capt. Juan Carlos “Charlie” Mercado; and
- Peace Officer Jonathan Peck.
Ray takes on the role at a time of some upheaval for the department. Gore, 74, retired on the same day the California State Auditor released a scathing assessment of the department’s record of jail deaths, saying that it “raises concerns about underlying systemic issues with the Sheriff’s Department’s policies and practices.”
Between 2006 and 2020, San Diego County’s seven detention facilities recorded 185 fatalities, averaging more than one per month, which the auditor noted is one of the highest comparable totals in the state. Two inmates — 46-year-old Lonnie Newton Rupard and 22-year-old William Schuck — died last week as they were being housed at San Diego Central Jail.
Since the report came out, families of inmates who died in jail have publicly demanded answers and a federal class-action lawsuit was filed against San Diego County, the sheriff’s department and other agencies.
“People are dying preventable deaths and the jail really needs to be held accountable for those,” attorney Van Swearingen told FOX 5 last month.
Martinez, who has been the voice of the department since Gore’s departure, said she agreed with the recommendations of the assessment, noting the report was “hard to read.” One such change already being implemented is a body-worn camera pilot program for deputies working in jails.
“Video footage provides critical evidence for investigation of incidents and resolution of complaints,” officials said this month. “Body-worn cameras will supplement stationary cameras and other systems at detention facilities.”
FOX 5’s Matt Meyer contributed to this report.