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Sheriff speaks at public forum

Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, along with Sonoma Police Chief Bret Sackett, held a public forum Tuesday where community members voiced concerns and asked questions of law enforcement policies.

The event, held at the Sonoma Valley Grange, was organized and moderated by Sonoma County Board of Education trustee, and longtime Boyes Hot Springs resident, Gina Cuclis as a way for Sonoma’s top-ranking law enforcement officers to connect with Valley residents and address issues in the community.

Freitas opened the meeting thanking the members of the audience for their involvement and adding that he felt it was important as an elected official to connect with his constituents. He explained that Sackett was in attendance to add “local context” and address any areas that might be unfamiliar to the sheriff.

A 30-year law enforcement veteran, Freitas said that “sometimes (law enforcement) officers get hardened and it’s an important part of this job to connect with the community to hear what’s really going on.”

While the event was slated to focus on issues pertaining to the Sonoma Valley region, members of the public were most concerned about the recent shooting and killing of Santa Rosa teen Andy Lopez by a sheriff’s deputy, while Lopez was holding a toy, “air soft” AK-47 assault rifle.

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