Public vows support for Boudreaux in light of tweet backlash

Sheriff Boudreaux’s supporters address board of supervisors during June 10 meeting in response to comments regarding his tweet from three weeks ago

VISALIA – Just a week after Sheriff Mike Boudreaux suffered backlash for a tweet he published three weeks ago, droves of supporters turned out to the board of supervisors’ meeting to defend him.

Boudreaux had taken considerable flak for his tweet that stated, “For all those people who are hating cops across this nation. Just leave your name and address at your local police agency and let them know whenever you dial 9-1-1 or need emergency police services [that] you no longer wish for them to respond to your calls for help.”

Some people called Boudreaux a white supremacist and racist on social media and at the June 2 board of supervisors meeting. Others, like Abigail Solis, president of Earlimart public school district, said there should be a citizen’s oversight committee for the Sheriff’s department. But at the June 9 board meeting, most just took their three minutes of public comment to express support for the sheriff.

“I’m here to support our duly elected sheriff….who as a person, is a kind caring compassionate and loving person…He keeps order in a fair way and we don’t need people coming from other counties to tell us what to do. Racist is the farthest thing from sheriff Boudreaux,” Exeter resident Lily Hart said.

Maryanne Headstrom, presumably from Tulare County, paid her respects to Boudreaux and law enforcement in general. Pointing out that officers work a dangerous job. 

“How many of you head to work and not know if you will return home to your family, how many of you don’t know if your spouse or family member will not come home to you…Sheriff Boudreaux goes to work every day not knowing the answers to these questions but he and his officers go to work every day and do their jobs,” Headstrom said.

Local real estate agent, and former candidate for District 3 Board Supervisor, Brad Maaske also spoke during public comment, to explicitly point out that Boudreaux is not racist.

“We know that Sheriff Boudreaux is not racist and we know Sheriff Boudreaux is committed to this community. We know that Sheriff Boudreaux has given his all to anybody of any color, any race or any background…we just want the community to know that he has great support from everyone,” Maaske said.

However, not all public comment was a glowing endorsement of the Tulare County Sheriff. Mary Jane Galviso, who owns a farm in Orosi said every experience she’s had with the Sheriff’s department has been “horrible.” She went on to say that current divisiveness in the county has always been there.

“I think some of us have charmed lives and some of us don’t. And these divisions are not being created now, they have always been in this country,” Galviso said.

She was also the target of a disruptive outcry when she talked about the three occupants of a jeep that hit two women during a Black Lives Matter protest at the corner of Mooney and Caldwell.

“I come before this body and ask why are these men not being prosecuted…I learned something last night at the Visalia City Council meeting. And two people spoke and they said they know the two young men who driving that jeep and his father happens to be a correctional officer and his uncle happens to be a retired sheriff,” Galviso said.

The notion that the driver and passengers of the jeep have familial connection to the Visalia Police Department, and in particular to this investigation was quickly addressed as false by Visalia chief of police Jason Salazar. And the crowd at the board of supervisors meeting loudly expressed their concern.

Other public comment over the phone followed a similar train of thought, also commenting on the incident involving the blue Jeep.

“It’s unacceptable that nothing has been done about it…there needs to be accountability and again this is another clear example of how white supremacy is in the community,” a woman only known as Korina stated.

Her comments prompted board chairman Pete Vander Poel to express the process of the investigation.

“There is a legal process…first of all the board has no authority to file any criminal cases. Cases are filed by the district attorney and they are based on fact and the application of law…and not public opinion. I just wanted to be very clear that there will be a very thorough investigation. It is taking place right now.

“But saying that nothing is happening and that we are being complicit is a completely false narrative and it is inappropriate to be considered for anyone listening to this meeting. I just want to be very clear about that. I have spoken with the district attorney and I know this process is being carried out as we speak,” Vander Poel said.

Public comment ended with a final vote of support from school teacher, Dennis Mack.

“We should be looking at how people act and what people believe in. I support Sheriff Boudreaux. I think he’s done a great job in this county,” Mack said.

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