Kevin Harris (00:01)
This is Kevin Harris with Citizens Journal. Commander Jim Fryhoff was kind enough to take time from his busy campaign schedule to talk with me about some of his experiences throughout his long and accomplished law enforcement career and to share with our audience why he feels he is the best choice for Ventura County Sheriff. I began my interview by asking about his family and what he likes the most about Ventura County.
Jim Fryhoff (00:27)
Totally. So I’m married. I’ve been married for 19 years. I have two daughters, Vanessa and Savannah. Both go to high school here in Simi Valley. My wife is a teacher here in Simi Valley as well. She’s a second grade teacher at St. Rose of Lima. I moved to Ventura County 31 years ago when I was hired on with the Sheriff’s office. I was born and raised in Pasadena. I worked for the police Department down there as a cadet when I was 18, but then I applied with Ventura County Sheriff’s Department when I was 19 years old and was hired and I moved here and been here for 31 years. I absolutely love Ventura County. My wife is from San Diego. When we met, she moved up here and we were able to establish our home here in Simi Valley which made it convenient because when we would drive to San Diego, the drive was a little bit less than from when I was living down in Silverstrand, down in Oxnard. It’s a little bit shorter drive to San Diego from here, but we love Simi Valley. We love Ventura County, love the access to the mountains, the beaches.
Jim Fryhoff (01:18)
The close proximity to Los Angeles and San Diego as well makes it just an ideal place to live. It’s not super overcrowded. It’s just a great way to live, a great place to raise a family, and it’s a very secure place to be.
Kevin Harris (01:32)
In all your years as serving in Ventura County through the various positions you’ve had, do you have any favorite experience that stands out in your mind?
Jim Fryhoff (01:42)
Wow. I’ve actually got a couple of really good ones. I was a crew chief where I got to fly in our helicopters as a collateral assignment. So I was still a Detective and I had worked in the jail during the time that I was a crew chief. But when I first started when I was 19, if there was an assignment that I said that’s a bucket list item that I had was being a crew chief and do rescues and fight fires, but as far as an operational job, I’ve had a great assignments throughout my time here at the organization, but probably one of my most fun times was being the chief of police in Ojai. I was a deputy. That was my first patrol station. So being able to go back and be the chief at my very first patrol station was very memorable to me. One of the officers that I worked with as deputies together was my assistant chief. He was a Sergeant. I was a captain. And so being able to work with him during that time was pretty remarkable.
Kevin Harris (02:33)
You have 31 years of combined experience with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. In that time, you’ve been everything from a patrol deputy to Sergeant to commander and won the Medal of Valor after a terrible incident where you lost your partner and served as the Thousand Oaks Police chief from 2020 until your sudden and unexpected removal by County Sheriff Bill Ayub in June of last year. Was there a reason ever provided for that sudden removal?
Jim Fryhoff (03:03)
No. Great question. No, I was not given any reason at all. I had internally had made some decisions about making the decision to run for Sheriff. I had met with several people from the organization, talking to them to see if they were seeing the same failures that I was seeing in our executive team as far as the lack of communication, lack of leadership, and lack of support. And so I reached out to some other managers in the organization to see if I was alone. And I was not alone. I had them all submit to me their top three things that they thought were broken in the organization. And consistently it was those three things lack of communication, lack of leadership, and lack of support. So I’d made a decision that I was going to run. Now, I had not made it formally known. I hadn’t announced that I was running for Sheriff yet because I had promised my wife I wouldn’t announce until we got back from vacation. We hadn’t had a real vacation over five years. And so after it was known by a lot of people in the organization that I was going to run, I came to work one day on a Monday morning for our command staff, our patrol commander’s meeting.
Jim Fryhoff (03:58)
And I was told that I needed to go see the Undershariff first thing. So I drove down to the undersheriff’s office in the Sheriff’s main office building. There was a conference room, and the Undershariff was there, along with the assistant Sheriff in charge of detention services. And the Undersheriff just told me flat out that the Sheriff has the ability to move managers as he sees fit, and he decided to remove you, effective immediately, from your position as the chief of police in Thousand Oaks. And you’re being resigned to detention services. You have two days to pack your office and you’ll report to detention services on Wednesday. That’s all the information I was given.
Kevin Harris (04:28)
How would you describe your relationships with the city councils within Ventura County and Sheriff? Do you believe those relationships should be very agreeable or of a more independent nature?
Jim Fryhoff (04:41)
So I have a very good relationship with our city councils. At the end of the day, our job is to provide good public safety in law enforcement, but we can do that by partnering with all of our city councils. When I sought to run for office and I was seeking endorsements, I’m endorsed by the entire City Council of Ojai. Obviously, having been the chief of police there, they know what I bring to the table as far as working with the community, keeping crime down, and making sure that our officers are focused on the right things to keep our community safe. I’m endorsed by the majority of the Port Hueneme City Council. Obviously, the chief of police and Port Hueneme has endorsed me as well. [We have] a very similar philosophy on community based policing, community partnerships, which is why they’ve endorsed me as well. The entire Moorpark City Council has endorsed me also. They know what my skill set is. They’ve talked to their prior Chiefs who understand what it takes to lead, what my vision has been, and how we’re able to employ those services here to keep our community safe, which is why they’ve endorsed me.
Jim Fryhoff (05:33)
The city of Simi Valley, the majority of Simi City Council has endorsed me. And notice that some of these are not contract cities. These are cities that are within the county. And it’s up to the Sheriff to make sure we’re working with all of the cities in the county, not just the ones that contract with the Sheriff to provide public safety services. The more we work with these other agencies, the safer Ventura County will be. That’s why I’m endorsed by Santa Paula Police Office, Hueneme Police Office and Oxnard Police Office, County Fire Association and Oxnard Fire [Department]. Nearly all the public safety agencies in Ventura County [have endorsed me]. Their associations have endorsed me because my long history of working together with those communities and with our City Council is to make sure they were all marching towards the same goal to keep us all safe.
Kevin Harris (06:19)
What is your view of the current state governor, and are there state laws that you refuse to enforce? Would you enforce a COVID lockdown mandate, an indoor mask mandate?
Jim Fryhoff (06:31)
No, I don’t have an issue with the governor. There are some laws that have been passed recently that have made it very challenging for law enforcement. Prop. 47, Prop. 57, which decriminalized some things and lowered the level of crime for other things that really have made it challenging for law enforcement in the state of California. Obviously, petty theft being risen to a $950 limit is substantial. So organized retail theft crews are attacking our businesses, which will be eventually passed down to our consumers. But it’s very disastrous for public safety. There’s no longer a section called petty theft with a prior, which would make it a felony. Had you been convicted before of petty theft and served at least one day in jail, we could charge that person with a felony to increase their penalty. That doesn’t exist anymore. So that makes it a challenge so that we have potentially repeat offenders that are continuing to destroy a law and order society that we have. As far as the health mandate and health orders go, I don’t want to speak about how things happened at the time. Hindsight is 2020, and I was not in those meetings at the time that would really give me the insight to why those decisions were made.
Jim Fryhoff (07:33)
Knowing what I know now, I believe that as a free society, it’s up to us to make those decisions. And we need to make sure that our community is supported by the rule of law and by our Constitution. And we need to make sure that we’re taking steps to keep each other safe. If a business owner on their own wants to require masks, I’ll support that business owner. If a business owner does not want to require masks equally, I will support that business owner, and people can choose to go in there or not.
Kevin Harris (07:56)
And finally, why are you a better choice for County Sheriff than your competition?
Jim Fryhoff (08:03)
We also have the ability to support the officers that are doing the job they’re doing, which is why I’m endorsed by our deputy Sheriff’s Association, our corrections office, and the Service Employees International Union, which represents our professional staff. All three associations that have employees from the Sheriff’s office have endorsed me and not the incumbent. It’s the first time in history that the deputy Sheriff’s Association did not endorse an incumbent because of my leadership abilities, my vision for the organization, my vision for how we’re going to attack the problems that we have right now. As far as crime goes, crime is on the rise here in Ventura County. In the Sheriff’s jurisdictions, the majority of that crime is from outside influences, catalytic converter thefts. We have organized retail theft crews, the south American theft groups that are doing residential and vehicle burglaries. That’s where we need to spend our time focusing on those crimes. Also, an amount of fentanyl and drugs coming into our community as well. We have to target these things to keep us safe. And if our officers are only going out trying to collect stats for stat’s sake, then we’re not using our resources in the best way possible.
Jim Fryhoff (09:02)
We need to make sure that we have a directed approach to dealing with emerging threats that we have here in Ventura County. And like I said, that’s why I’m endorsed by nearly every law enforcement agency in Ventura County. I’ve got a proven track record of working with other agencies. I’ve got a proven track record of developing and leading the men and women of the Sheriff’s office, and that’s why they’re ready for a change. And that’s why I’m a better candidate.
Kevin Harris (09:22)
So you were telling me a story about your partner and his daughter. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Jim Fryhoff (09:32)
Yeah. So we mentioned at the beginning that I was involved in an officer involved shooting very early in my career, about 25 and a half years ago, 26 July, as a matter of fact. And it was a very traumatic incident for me and a complete eye opener for policing. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure that I was ever going to even return to police work. After the shooting. I had a friend of mine, and I went on a road trip right after the shooting had happened. I got a couple of days off. The county offered, and I had a vacation that was already scheduled. And on the drive, he asked me to go, what do you think? And I go, I think I’m done. And his response was, well, that guy just took out two cops, not one. And I didn’t like the way that sounded. And so I decided that I wasn’t going to let that define me. I knew this job was dangerous. I knew I signed up to do a job. I want to keep our community safe. And so I came back to work. Now I’d mentioned Pete, who was murdered.
Jim Fryhoff (10:20)
Peter Aguirre Jr. He left behind his widow, Dina, and his daughter Gabby, who was three years old at the time. Now, as an organization, we got to watch Gabby grow up. And we’d see Dina every year a peace officer. Memorial week, they would come and tie blue ribbons on all our cars. And I watched Gabby grow up. And then one year, when she was 17, Asked her mom how she was doing. And her mom had said, you know, time does heal. And she asked how I was doing. I said, I’m not nearly as angry as I used to be. I was pretty angry about having to be in a shooting and having somebody tried to kill me. And Gabby had asked me, why were you angry? And that was when Dina told me, Gabby doesn’t really know where you fit in and how you knew her dad. And so I said, well, if she’s ready to hear it, I’ll tell her now. So she goes, she’s 17, almost 18. It’s probably time. So I sat down with Gabby And I told her how I knew her dad. I’d been a field training officer. We’d work together quite a bit.
Jim Fryhoff (11:08)
I told her about the day that he was murdered. We were on a domestic violence call, And I didn’t go into the gory details with her. I just let her know what happened that day, and we became very close after that. Once she knew what my role was in shooting the suspect that killed her dad, she really bonded with me, and I became uncle Jim at that point.