The case has disturbed many here in the Bay Area. The sheriff of San Francisco, Ross Mirkarimi, arrested on a domestic violence charge. His wife went to their neighbors in tears 20 hours after the attack, which happened on New Year’s Eve (2011). She recounted what happened and also described a previous episode. One neighbor, who happens to also be an attorney, took video of her statements.
Mirkarimi was charged with domestic violence, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness five days after he was sworn in as sheriff. Mirkarimi infamously claimed the incident was a “private family matter” and so La Casa de Madres, a local advocacy group, crowdsourced money for a billboard near city hall to remind everyone that domestic violence is NEVER a private matter.
In addition to claiming it was a private matter, Mirkarimi initially pled not guilty to all charges. However, citing mounting financial pressures, the SF Chronicle is reporting that he pled to the lesser charge of false imprisonment. He will complete a year-long domestic violence counseling program and serve three-years probation. This is all typical of a first time domestic violence charge.
But should he still be sheriff?
I don’t think so. For two reasons.
1. When you are someone with a position of power you must be held to a higher standard. When a policeman commits a violent crime, it’s a concern. When he is the head of the sheriff’s department it is even more troubling. He can stay on the force (don’t they have desk jobs?), but I don’t think he should be in charge. A leader doesn’t beat his wife in front of his two-year-old son, intimidate her into feeling that were she to leave him she would be deported and lose custody of her child, deny the charges, and claim it’s a “private matter.”
2. He cites financial reasons for pleading guilty. Well, if that doesn’t say, “I’m so sorry, I lost my temper and I just don’t know what came over me. I am devastated and will never get over that I hurt my wife and scared my son. I want to do everything in my power to make sure this never happens again,” I don’t know what does. If you plead guilty, then show some remorse. People are much more likely to forgive and to believe that you really want to change when you actually admit guilt. In my experience, telling a judge that you plead “guilty” is a lot different from showing the world you made a mistake and want to change.
When people don’t own up to domestic violence it bugs me. A lot. They’re not sorry they did it. Maybe they don’t even believe they are guilty of a crime. They’re just sorry they got caught.
What do you think? Should Mirkarimi still be sheriff?