South Fork High School graduate Tom Allman is a candidate for Sheriff in Mendocino County. Allman, the son of former Redway teacher Norma Allman, graduated in 1979. He attended Chico State, Butte Community College, and the Fire Academy. In 1981, he went to work for the city of Fairfield as Public Safety Officer, but left that post to attend the Police Academy in Santa Rosa in 1982. He later served as the resident deputy in Laytonville for two years.
Allman has been promoted through the ranks and is now a lieutenant, responsible for the Northern Sector encompassing Willits, Laytonville, Covelo, and Piercy.
Allman says that his top priority is methamphetamine. He says that most people want to talk to him about medical marijuana, but he sees meth use as the main drug problem in Mendocino County. Apart from the damage it does to the users, Allman is concerned about the dangers meth manufacture presents to water supplies and the general environment. He believes that tackling meth use will take a grassroots effort.
”I want every deputy, secretary, and jail worker to know as much about meth as I do,” he says. He thinks it should get the same reaction as bird flu in terms of the dangers it represents.
”People talk about treatment being the answer,” he says, “but the Sheriff’s Office is not a social service agency. I don’t want to sound cold and heartless, but meth use is involved in many other crimes, from domestic violence to burglaries and car thefts. The main focus of the Sheriff’s Office has to be to find it and make arrests to protect communities.”
Allman’s second main concern is the lack of preparedness for an emergency such as a major earthquake. He says the Mendocino Office of Emergency Services recently disbanded and is trying to reorganize itself.
”We’re not prepared for a major disaster,” Allman says. He has experienced the aftermath of disasters in Kosovo, Southern India after the tsunami, and New Orleans after Katrina.
”I talked to emergency personnel in India and New Orleans and they all said they were not ready for what happened.”
Allman would like to see emergency supplies, including generators, dispersed throughout the county so that isolated areas would be able to take care of themselves for a week or more.
The territory that Allman currently oversees covers 1,600 square miles. Law enforcement for that area is provided by Allman, 13 deputies, and three sergeants. He says that he enjoys good relationships with the CHP, State Parks, and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department for backup and help with covering such a large territory. During the times when Confusion Hill is closed, he says, he has been grateful for the help of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department for providing law enforcement to Piercy and other areas made inaccessible to his deputies by the road closures.
Allman is facing the incumbent Sheriff and another challenger. “Win or lose,” he says, “I want to make this work.”