O.C. Sheriff drops chauffeur, security

SANTA ANA New Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens is making changes in her department. Hutchens is doing away with her security entourage and her state-paid chauffeur.

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Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens is just over two weeks on the job, but she's already making changes, increasing the distance between her way of operating and that of former sheriff, Mike Carona, who resigned after being indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of using his public office to acquire cash and gifts in return for favors to friends.

Carona was known to travel with a security team of up to three people. Hutchens has chosen to do without.

"I feel like Orange County is a very safe place to live and work," said Sheriff Hutchens. "And just like any other citizen, I feel comfortable moving around the county without a security detail."

In L.A. County, Sheriff Lee Baca has a sergeant drive him to public appearances, giving him time to do work in the car while having extra protection.

Hutchens says it makes sense for Baca, since he has to cover a much larger area than she does.

"It would be a luxury to be able to get some of that work done in the car, but for me, I don't think it justifies having a person who could be doing a job someplace else, and we are short on personnel in areas, so I'd rather not do that," said Sheriff Hutchens.

Sheriff Hutchens says the savings is about $150,000 a year. That's how much it would cost to have a full-time sergeant provide security for her. The 53-year-old says she does carry a Glock 9mm handgun on her hip when in uniform. She's been trained to use a weapon for 30 years, since she started in law enforcement.

In 1980, early in her career with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept., Hutchens shot and killed an armed man.

"I had someone point a gun at me in pretty close quarters, and I had to fire my weapon," said Sheriff Hutchens.

Officials say when Carona was Orange County Sheriff, he did receives threats to his safety. Hutchens says an assessment was done, and so far she faces no threat, which makes her feel comfortable driving herself around.


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