SNKIDS.ORG asked the candidates 6 questions related to their positions on issues related to special needs kids.
Here are their answers.
1. Introduce yourself
Mark D. Melville – I was born and raised in San Francisco, where I was one of five children. My father was a carpenter, and my mother was in customer service at Wilson Sporting Goods. We were raised in the Catholic faith, and I attended Immaculate Conception Elementary School, and Sacred Heart High School in San Francisco. I have two wonderful children and four beautiful grandchildren. My law enforcement career started in July of 1975. I have had the privilege to serve in cities and counties throughout California wherein my experience in police work and public safety have led to my current position with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office as a Deputy Sheriff. This breadth of experience has prepared me to serve as Sheriff of San Mateo County. I believe that I am the most qualified candidate to faithfully serve the people of San Mateo County. I am firmly rooted in our local community and consider it a blessing to have continued to hold positions in law enforcement. I thank God every day for giving me all the skills that I need to serve his people.
Carlos Bolanos – I have been married for 39 years and have 3 children and 2 grandchildren.
I have 39 years in Law Enforcement working at the Palo Alto Police Department (Police Officer-Lieutenant), Salinas Police Department (Captain), Redwood City Police Department (Chief of Police) and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office as Undersheriff and Sheriff.
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.
My priorities are Keeping San Mateo County Safe, Maintaining Excellent Relationships with our Residents and Providing our inmates with treatment and programs that provide them an opportunity upon release.
2. Has a special needs person or incident affected your personal or professional life? How? (optional)
Mark D. Melville – My 13 year old granddaughter is Autistic. She is a beautiful young woman that works hard to “fit” in with her fellow classmates and has been very successful. I am very proud of her and all of her accomplishments. I was introduced to Special Olympics in the mid 1980’s. I have had the pleasure of serving these fine young individuals, mostly through sporting activities. There is nothing more exciting to watch the expressions on their faces when they succeed at accomplishing a feet they
themselves didn’t think they could do. I’ve participated in many fundraising events for Special Olympics, knowing full well the money will be fully utilized in creating a positive atmosphere where the recipients will be successful, win or lose in their challenge to be one of us. I will never lose my desire to serve these fine young individuals.
3. Do you perceive any gaps in the services that the Sheriff’s department currently provides for people with mental, physical, or developmental disabilities?
Mark D. Melville – We in the Sheriff’s Office generally deal with persons who are incarcerated and suffer with mental disabilities. Generally, a person’s mental disability causes them to commit a crime for which they are arrested and placed into our custody. We do have mental health staff on board who work directly in conjunction with the County mental health system. We do our best to see that they receive the attention they need while in custody and then follow up with services once they are released from custody. In my opinion, there will never be enough practitioners to serve all those who suffer from mental illness, however we need to focus our efforts to help the most in need.
4. Many of the incidents that your department responds to involve people with disabilities. Do you consider the training of the department staff adequate for these situations? If so, could you discuss the program, if not, what do you plan to do to change the situation?
Mark D. Melville – I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say we respond to many incidents involving those with disabilities..? We respond to many calls wherein the person(s) involved are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. We also respond to many calls were an individual is under some type of mental collapse. Our deputies are trained and deal with these individuals on a one and one bases and direct the affected individuals towards the appropriate care. Deputies are trained to recognize those persons who are in dire need of psychological and/or physiological services.
Carlos Bolanos – I am not aware of any training for law enforcement that involves responding to provide service to people with disabilities. I would be open to reviewing any training that makes us more responsive to the communities that we serve.
5. What changes to you plan to implement for the approximately 40 percent of the juveniles and adults in your detention facilities with disabilities? Do you believe you have adequate resources and training to help these people? Are you satisfied with the current situation?
Carlos Bolanos – The Sheriff’s Office is responsible only for the adult detention facilities. The Probation Department is responsible for juvenile facilities. The 40% figures represents approximately the number of inmates who have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness.
Unfortunately, county jails have become responsible for housing many persons who have some form of mental illness, and we have been working in partnership with our County mental health partners to provide treatment areas in our facilities to provide intensive treatment to our inmates. We have done this through the development of specific Behavioral Health Programming areas for those inmates with serious mental health issues who can not be housed in general population.
I am not satisfied with the current situation. Jails are not the place for those with mental illness to get better.
Mark D. Melville – Again, I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say there is 40% of our jail population with disabilities. Those with physical disabilities are put in area’s of the jail where they have easier access to facilities and medical staff. Those individuals who have mental disabilities are also housed appropriately wherein they have constant monitoring of their specific condition by both mental health staff as well as the correctional officers. All abnormalities are immediately reported to County Health officials which may cause the individual to be transported to a medical facility for advanced treatment. The current situation seems to be adequate, however all of these services need constant evaluation to ensure we are providing the right services at the right time, we can always be better,
6. What is the most important thing you will do to help achieve better outcomes for all people (children and adults) with special needs in San Mateo County?
Mark D. Melville – First, and most important, we need to do our very best to identify those kids and/or adults that are in need of specialized services. When we do make such an
identification/determination, we then must direct them to those who are the best at providing said services. We have to be vigilant not to let somebody who crosses our path fall through the cracks. Everyone deserves a fair shot at life and we in law enforcement need to recognize this and direct those in need to where they can get the
right services so they get their shot.