Former Santa Clara County sheriff’s captain throws hat in 2022 race for sheriff

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A retired captain for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office is joining the race to become the next sheriff, now the second opponent looking to unseat current Sheriff Laurie Smith in the upcoming 2022 election. 

Kevin Jensen has over 30 years of experience working in the sheriff’s office and he is throwing his hat in the race for sheriff once again after losing to Smith in 2014. 

“I’ve been trying to expose something for many years internally, I was actually working with this sheriff [Smith] back in the mid-80s and we were partners, she was my direct supervisor, and gave me a lot of information on how to be the first detective,” said Jensen. 

“For me, right now I see that the opportunity to serve is here, I ran in 2014, I took a backseat to help the person to run 2018 because I did not want to split the vote, I felt like the mission was more important than me,” Jensen added.

“And now I believe it is the best opportunity because of all those things I said for 12 years in the public and internally before that, unfortunately, came true.”

Jensen tells KRON4 News he feels this time his campaign can end differently as Smith continues to face investigations and demands for her resignation. 

“In recent years all the things that I warned people about kind of came true and it’s been really heartbreaking to see the deaths, the mismanagement, all of the embarrassment that’s been caused to the sheriff’s office and all of its employees,” said Jensen. 

“Because I truly believe that there are great men and women who work here from all genders, faiths, orientations, and they just want to do a good job and serve,” Jensen added. 

“But right now with good management, with people that care, and have the motivation not to stay in power but to serve, that’s what I’ll bring.”

Pictured: Kevin Jensen.

Jensen said as a child, his father was in and out of prison and it was always a dream of his to work in law enforcement. 

He says he believes his upbringing and experience in law enforcement will allow him to relate to a diverse community within the sheriff’s office and individuals in custody. 

“I was able to work a bunch of different fields [in the sheriff’s office], I worked the jails, I worked in escape apprehension, I worked detective bureau, and then I worked in patrol, courts, I was the coroner one time, I ran the court security, ” said Jensen.

“And I was actually involved in anti-terrorism my last two years,” Jensen added.

“But what I found is that all that experience, especially when I went over to be the assistant chief of the jail, gave me a well-rounded management experience in addition to all of the other parts of the sheriff’s office.” 

A few weeks ago, county supervisors requested that a federal and state investigation be opened over Smith’s alleged mismanagement of the county jail, where three incidents have resulted in mentally ill inmates injured or killed. 

Smith has since denied the allegations against her.

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