Jim Barnes, a 22-year veteran captain of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, announced on Feb. 17 that he’s running for sheriff in the June 2022 primary election.
The Wilton resident already gained an endorsement from current sheriff, Scott Jones, who does not intend to seek reelection after serving three terms.
Jones, in a statement provided by Barnes’ campaign, expressed his support of Barnes’ candidacy.
“I know Jim Barnes, and he is fully committed to keeping this community safe,” the sheriff wrote. “He has an untarnished reputation of experience and leadership to be an excellent sheriff.”
While Barnes’ announcement makes him the first official candidate for sheriff for the 2022 primary election, Jim Cooper, a former Sacramento County sheriff’s captain and current Assembly member, publicly expressed interest in the position last December.
Cooper’s spokesperson Skyler Wonnacott told the Herald last week that the assemblyman is “still weighing his options.”
Cooper narrowly lost to Jones in the 2010 election, with Jones taking 50% of the vote to Cooper’s 49%.
Barnes, who has served under four sheriffs during his career, has much experience with the local sheriff’s department, having worked in various levels, from corrections and patrol to investigations, where he was a sexual assault investigator and a homicide investigator. He eventually moved through the ranks of management and became a commander.
Barnes told the Herald this week that he is a leader who desires to listen to people to achieve solutions.
“I’m confident in my leadership ability,” Barnes said. “I have a great reputation within the agency, and being willing to sit down and listen to community leaders and say, ‘Hey, what do we need to be doing better and how do we get there?’ That, to me, is kind of my why we are solution-driven in law enforcement, but at the same time, we need to just listen, and what can we be doing better? And that’s what I’m committed to.”
Barnes also noted that he wants to improve the relationship between the community and law enforcement.
“My mindset is when the community’s expectations change, we have to change,” he said. “Now, we just have to figure out what that is and start moving forward.
“Over the past year, there’s been obviously some vocal groups, whether it’s ‘defund the police’ or whatever it may be. But how do we get to the table? How do we figure this out? How do we move forward? And that, for me, is just really relationship building.”
Barnes added that he has taken an interest in communicating with local community groups.
“I’m committed to having those tough conversations,” he said. “I’ve already been working with a lot of the community groups, especially after the horrible interactions with George Floyd and that tragedy. I knew we needed to get to work as far as the community relationships side.
“I’ve been able to work with groups that now, I guess, would trust and allow me to be part of those conversations, because they know I’m open to hearing it and I’m willing to take action to make sure that we all work together.”
Prior to his hiring by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office in July 1998, Barnes grew up in Modesto and he lived in Rancho Murieta for 18 years.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in social science from California State University, Sacramento in 1997.
Barnes also served on the board of directors of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, and has run the annual Pig Bowl-presented Guns & Hoses nonprofit charity football game that has contributed more than $1.5 million to local charities since 1974.
With the department, Barnes was twice named Employee of the Year, first as a sexual assault detective, and then while working as a homicide supervisor. He also was honored with an Action with Compassion Award by Women Escaping A Violent Environment (WEAVE) during his time as a sexual assault detective.
Despite his many leadership experiences, Barnes said that he approaches his run for sheriff with humility.
“For me, those experiences culminated into this final decision,” he said. “I believe I have it now, but make no mistake, anytime you enter something new, there’s always going to be things I need to learn, and that’s what I pride myself on is going in with the humility of learning it, and then how do we find the way to excel?