Rick Book, soon to be Sacramento County undersheriff, describes his goals

01/04/2012 12:00 AM

01/04/2012 8:45 AM

On Friday, a 28-year veteran of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department will be sworn in as the agency's second-in-command.

Capt. Rick Book, 48, will replace Undersheriff Mark Iwasa, who is retiring from the department after 27 years and assuming leadership of the Sacramento State Police Department.

Book, who has headed the sheriff's operations north of the American River, spoke with The Bee on Tuesday.

>Tell me about your experience in the department and how it makes you qualified to be undersheriff.

I have over 28 years on the job. I started as a reserve deputy sheriff and, much like a lot of the folks in the department, have come up through the ranks. I've worked just about every division in the department at one time or another.

>What do you believe is the role of the undersheriff and how does that differ, if at all, from the interpretations of undersheriffs in the past?

The role of the undersheriff is multi-faceted. It's very important that whoever the current undersheriff is works very well with the current three chief deputies. Those four carry out the vision and the mission of the sheriff, so as the sheriff comes up with concepts, ideas, vision the three chiefs and the undersheriff make it happen. Operationally, administratively, that body of executive staff run everything for a department as large as ours.

I look after the interests of the sheriff as well. He's very busy – he's not only a political figure, but he has a lot going on, a lot on his plate. He's out of town on a regular basis and when he is, I'm in constant contact with him. I'll represent him on a number of occasions when I go out to community events. Oftentimes he's double- or triple-booked on evenings when trying to get out to see the public, and I'll be filling that role as well.

>Good transition. The sheriff has said he would like to see the undersheriff interacting with the community more. How will you go about doing that?

Having just come from the north field division, there's quite a demand in that division to go to a lot of community-based events, participate in the neighborhood watch-type meetings. Those are very important to our constituents out in the field. Those folks want to see not only the sergeants that are running the small teams they also want to see the commander, so I attended numerous meetings out in the north area and will continue to do that as undersheriff as the need arises.

>Let's talk about the budget. Over the last few years the Sheriff's Department has seen a lot of challenges in its budget, and certainly Undersheriff Mark Iwasa was very involved in that process. How comfortable are you with that aspect of the job?

That's an area where I have some big shoes to fill. Mark Iwasa, that was his forte – it was a bit of a niche for him. He really had a good handle on the budget. I've transitioned the last three weeks with Mark. (He's) been fantastic at mentoring and coaching me. We have a team of three chief deputies that are very strong that have been in place and the continuity is going to help me with that transition, so it's a team effort. But like I said, I have large shoes to fill and I have a lot to learn there.

>Do you have any goals for the department during your term as undersheriff?

One of the (areas where) Mark and I are different – I have a heavy operational background. I came up through the department through operations, through patrol and through 10 years on the (SWAT team) and now back in patrol. My heart is in, 'How do we provide the best level of service to the community when it comes to all things operational?' With budget cuts the way they've been, I realize we need to have some focus (on) how we provide the highest level of service . I think that's exactly why Scott Jones selected me as undersheriff, because he wants to have that contact with the community from the operational side of things.

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