By Emily Rasmussen

After 10 years of leading the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), Sheriff Sandra Hutchens’ seat is wide open.

OCSD is the nation’s fifth largest sheriff’s department, which serves 3.1 million residents and oversees nearly 4,000 employees. On June 5, voters will choose who OCSD’s next leader will be.

With nearly 30 years of experience at OCSD, Undersheriff Don Barnes, second-in-command to Hutchens, is running a campaign based on his administrative experience in law enforcement, his accomplishments as undersheriff and his endorsement by Hutchens, among others. Barnes hopes to build on policies and strategies he’s been a part of since 2016, when he began as undersheriff.

Also with nearly 30 years of experience with OCSD, Aliso Viejo Mayor Dave Harrington is running a campaign on reforming the Sheriff’s Department and his experience as mayor. Harrington’s main goals are to increase efficiency and transparency in the Sheriff’s Department. Harrington’s list of endorsements largely include local mayors and councilmembers, among others.

Duke Nguyen, with more than 26 years of law enforcement experience, started out with the Santa Ana Police Department and currently works with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office in the Justice System Integrity Division. Nguyen is running a campaign largely based on community policing and transparency, and one of his endorsements includes the Democratic Party of Orange County.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which oversees 13 cities including Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano, has been on the forefront of many local issues facing South Orange County.

Last year, in response to rising law enforcement contract costs with its 13 cities, a coalition was formed by the city managers to draft a study to look into the costs. The findings are expected to be released later this year.

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