Sheriff Don Barnes Says Good Morning to Corona del Mar

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Sheriff Don Barnes at the CdM Chamber event / photo by Robyn Grant

The Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce welcomed a presentation from newly re-elected Sheriff Don Barnes at the June Good Morning Corona del Mar speaker program on June 9.

Sheriff Barnes, one of the preeminent public safety voices in our nation, heads a team of 4,000 in the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The agency has been recognized nationally for innovative measures dealing with homelessness, protecting houses of worship, and reforming custody operations.

Barnes transitioned at the age of 24 from real estate finance to law enforcement because, he said tongue in cheek, he “wanted a less stressful job”.

His agency focuses on proactive crime prevention through “intelligence-led policing strategies” and “community driven collaborative partnerships” including drug prevention, school safety, mitigating homelessness, and operating one of the nation’s best jail systems.

Barnes addressed several issues facing our county, starting with the success his agency has had with active shooter training and implementation.

He spoke candidly about the tragic shooting in May at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde County, Texas, citing a “failure of training and leadership” that could not properly respond to a “disenfranchised individual with a perceived grievance and access to firearms.”

The OC Sheriff’s Department is highly trained and available on a 24-hour basis to respond to critical incidents like barricaded suspects, hostage situations, sniper/active shooter situations, and crowd control.

Barnes added “Our policy is to show up, form a team and go in – we don’t wait outside.”

Regarding school violence in particular, Barnes called out two of the most proactive Sheriff’s Department programs:

  1. SMART (School Mobile Assessment and Resource Team) intervenes to resolve school incidents related to violence, threats, possession and/or use of weapons, unstable behaviors, and suicidal actions in collaboration with school officials, the Probation Department, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Heath Care Agency.
  2. PRYDE (Pepperdine Resource Youth Diversion and Education) diverts first-time juvenile offenders from the Juvenile Justice System with prevention, intervention, and counseling programs available at no cost to at-risk youth in all cities and unincorporated areas of Orange County.

Barnes went on to discuss the “most dramatic change law enforcement has seen with the introduction of fentanyl.” Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid strong enough to cause an overdose with as little as 2 milligrams.

“Drugs made of fentanyl are killing young people across our country at an alarming rate. Fentanyl has infiltrated our communities through counterfeit pills, cocaine, and other street drugs and is readily available anonymously through social media and delivered within minutes.”

“The OCSD is fully committed to fighting fentanyl on all fronts, from aggressive law enforcement to community education” added Barnes.

Barnes mentioned that property crime is another growing issue in the county and has been “steadily on the rise since the passage of Proposition 47.” Represented as the “Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act,” the proposition had the opposite outcome, reducing the penalties for property and drug crime and “effectively flooding the streets with criminals.”

Notwithstanding his frustration with “defund the police policies and legislation that decriminalizes crime,” Barnes, who spent the first 30 years of his career putting people in jail, has “spent the last three years keeping people out of jail, with drug rehabilitation, work placement, and other programs to lift people out of crime.”

Barnes also mentioned his support for the 2nd amendment and the OCSD’s Carry Concealed Weapon license program which issues licenses to persons who are of good moral character, have completed a course of training, and have good cause for issuance of a CCW.

Barnes stressed the “need for balance” and advocates to “keep guns out of the wrong hands” supporting “red flag laws, universal background checks, and other measures.”  He added, “A CCW is like a driver’s license, it is issued as a privilege and not a right. We are not tolerant of any disregard of the CCW rules and readily revoke licenses.”

Ending on a positive note, Barnes stressed the need for all agencies to work together.  “I will work with any person or agency to secure public safety. We strive for de-escalation and encourage anyone encountering law enforcement to obey directives,” noting post encounter remedies are available when necessary.

For more information on the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce programs go to

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