Sheriff Rod Hoops
Sheriff Rod Hoops (Courtesy photo - San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)
PDF: Sheriff Rod Hoops retirement announcement


San Bernardino County Sheriff Rod Hoops, in office less than four years, said Wednesday he plans to retire in December, two years before his term ends.

Hoops said he has accepted a position with a law enforcement research foundation in Washington.

"I am leaving on my own terms, with peace of mind, in good health and with no regrets," Hoops said in an interoffice memo to county personnel.

Hoops, 55, has been hired as an executive fellow with the Police Foundation, which researches effective policing methods and helps improve relationships between police and communities, according to the group's website.

It was unclear whether there was any significance to Hoops making his announcement the day after the general election.

Sheriff's officials deferred to the sheriff for further reasons for his departure, but Hoops was tied up in meetings throughout the day Wednesday and couldn't be reached for comment.

Hoops' decision to retire raises the question of who his successor may be. Appointed sheriff in February 2009 to finish the term of Gary Penrod, Hoops was elected sheriff in 2010. His term expires at the end of 2014.

The sheriff's second-in-command is Undersheriff Robert Fonzi. Also on the executive staff are Assistant Sheriffs Ron Cochran and John McMahon.

"(Hoops) did announce to the Board of Supervisors and CEO this morning that his recommendation is Assistant Sheriff John McMahon," said sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller.

McMahon, a Phelan resident, has worked for the Sheriff's Department since 1985 and oversees criminal operations.

Hoops said he plans to spend the rest of his time as sheriff working to make the transition a smooth one for the next sheriff.

"I look forward to working with our Board of Supervisors and our CEO to assist with the selection process," Hoops said.

His announcement comes just days after the San Bernardino City Council voted to begin examining the cost of outsourcing police services to the Sheriff's Department.

It's a step that was based largely on information Hoops gave City Attorney James F. Penman a week earlier. Hoops assured Penman that officers with the rank of sergeant and below could keep their jobs in the city, while most management could transfer to other areas. The officers would have a pay scale similar to the Police Department's, Penman said.

"We don't expect (Hoops' retirement) to alter things significantly, and we have Sheriff Hoops' assurance on that," Penman said. "The structure that he was presenting to me is the same as it's been for three or four sheriffs."

Hoops has worked for the Sheriff's Department 34 years.

He started as a deputy in 1978, became a sergeant in 1986, a lieutenant in 1989 and captain in 1995. As captain, he was assigned to employee services and then headed the sheriff's Rancho Cucamonga station for five years.

He became deputy chief in 2003, assistant sheriff in 2005 before his appointment as sheriff in 2009.

Among his challenges as sheriff were several high-profile scandals.

Last year, seven current and former sheriff's employees were indicted on suspicion of falsifying training documents that allowed them to receive unjustified pay raises and retirement benefits. The alleged thefts ranged from $2,000 to $100,000 per defendant.

Two months later, Hoops announced that the department planned to review its Explorer program after three deputies in two weeks were accused of having sex with teen girls in the program.

Hoops suspended the Explorer ride-along program for 60 days.

Between June and September, three inmates escaped from Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center in Devore, including one who allegedly shot and wounded a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy in South El Monte two days after his escape. 

The Sheriff's Department made an emergency request to the county Board of Supervisors for $1 million to make security upgrades at the jail, originally designed to be a minimum-security facility. The jail now houses offenders who normally would have been sent to state prison but are now with the county due to state prisoner realignment.

Hoops hailed department changes made during his tenure.

"An emphasis has been placed on a better educated and more diverse work force, a work force that will serve our constituents well for many years to come," he said.

He described his department as one "made up of exceptionally talented and dedicated individuals that are prepared and ready to lead the department into the future."


Staff writers Ryan Hagen and Doug Saunders contributed to this report.

Reach Melissa via email or call her at 909-386-3878.

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