Get to Know Mike Boudreaux
Recently Lifestyle Magazine had the pleasure of sitting down with Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux. Sheriff Boudreaux lives in Springville with his wife Angela and their two young children. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, a Master of Administration in Justice and Security, is a graduate of Los Angeles Police Department Westpoint Leadership academy. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy Quantico, VA and also serves as an adjunct professor of Criminal Justice at Fresno Pacific University. We hope you enjoy getting to know him as much as our limited space will allow.
LM: Sheriff Boudreaux, you have big shoes to fill.
MB: Yes, I do. You know, Bill Wittman was our Sheriff for the last 20 years, and he’s taken this department to places it has never been. When he first started some deputies didn’t have bullet-proof vests, and some cars were not outfitted with shotguns. He really began to move [the department] to where we are today.
LM: You have a special relationship with former Sheriff Whitman?
MB: I’ve been mentored under Bill Wittman, so he’s more than just the Sheriff, he’s like family. No, it’s not like family, he is family. Even the public considers him family because he cares, deeply. He not only cares for the men and women of this department, but he has long-standing friendships with the community in Tulare County. Bill carries that leadership style that is different than all the rest, and he really cosus on them men and women of the department and how he can better them. As I grew up in the department, he was promoted to various ranks from Sergeant all the way up to where I’m sitting today. He encouraged me to go back and get my education, to take as many leadership courses as possible and that prepared me for when I was appointed to his second in command.
LM: What did he say to you when you were first appointed to Undersherrif, and then to Sheriff?
MB: Undersheriff, being an at-will decision, this is a big role for the department. With a young family, you have to think about your career and your future, so this was a difficult decision to make. But I was eager to step into. I explained to him that my style of leadership was completely different of leadership styles he has seen in the past, not that they were bad. I will never forget what he said to me, “You know, Mike, you are the future of what this department has and your leadership style mirrors my belief system, which is why I picked you.” I thought so fondly of the fact that he saw me with the same vision that he carries himself. I care about the men and women of the department; about the Tulare County community. I was born and raised here.
LM: How did you learn you were being promoted to Sheriff?
MB: Bill had suffered a medical condition that required him to take a leave of absence. He called me to his home and as we sat there he said, “You know, Mike, You have been preparing yourself for years and you are ready for this position. And “I’m confident that you are ready to take on the role of Sheriff”
LM: A proud moment?
MB: I was so proud at that moment because it was coming from a man that I have so much respect for and who has taken this agency to where it is. Always looking up to this man, for me to step into a position where I’m looking eye-to-eye with him turning over the baton was a very proud moment.
LM: A little faster than expected, maybe.
MB: Yes, a little faster than to be expected. I thought that it would be later in my career, but I’m ready for this challenge.
LM: How many people in your department?
MB: We’re a little over 725. So, we’re a very large department. We have an $88 million budget. Over 70 percent of our funding goes to salaries. You have to treat this like a business and that’s what we’re doing.
LM: Some might think that’s an unusual term to describe a Sheriff’s Department.
MB: What I mean by that is that I have talked on many occasions about the importance of valuing your employees and also providing top-notch customer service. If our customers are happy that we’re being prudent with our spending and we’re valuing our staff, we’re going to be a successful business, a successful organization. If you look at different organizations throughout the nation, or even just here in California, the businesses that are successful are those that the staff feels valued, and they take value in your company’s mission, the vision. I can tell you, we’ve received more thank you letters from citizens in the last 10 to 12 months than we have in the last few years combined.
LM: From people you’ve helped?
MB: We’re actually receiving phone calls and letters of thank you from inmates, because of the customer care. Our customers are anyone who does not work for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department. We want to make sure that sense of professionalism and care goes all the way through the department. If the inmate is our customer, which they are, then we’ll treat them professionally and with courtesy.
LM: What gives you that kind of compassion?
MB: I’m not the same man that I was 20-25 years ago. I’ve had my share of ups and downs in my career, both personally and professionally. I think what that experience does for me is help me understand those that are going through a hard time. There are those times where you have someone that pulls you under their wing, they valueyou and put you in a different place. I would hate it if I ever got to the point that I don’t understand where I came from.
LM: How long have you been with the department?
MB: I’ve been here close to 28 years, and my dad worked for this Sheriff’s Department for 30 years. I remember him in a Tulare County Sheriff’s uniform when I was five years old. I was raised by the men and women that my father worked with. I know that may seem strange to people, but I have really lived the life of the Sheriff’s Department since I was very, very young.
LM: Have you made changes?
MB: We’ve made some. We’ve made some changes that are just a matter of doing business. We’ve recently, with me moving up into the Sheriff’s position, opened up my seat and left it open but not vacated.We just received a $60 million revenue source to build a new jail down in the southeast part of the county. And we just received the proposed approval of an additional $40 million project in the north part of the county. So that’s $100 million of outside revenue coming into this county for infrastructure on our jails. That’s big. Because we have our patrol operations, investigative operations, search and rescues, dive callouts, SWAT teams, community-based officers and jail operations for five different jail facilities, the job is big. Therefore, I’ve created two Assistant Sheriffs – one to oversee the jail operations and personnel side and one to oversee the patrol and investigative side. This is a unique opportunity for us to distribute management responsibilities with minimal impact to the department budget.
LM: What are some things you’re involved with?
MB: One of the things I’m really proud of and am reaching out to people in the community is in reference to scholarships for our youth that we recognize at their earliest levels. Now we have a PAL program, Police Activities League, that the Sheriff has done great work with that over the years. What I want to do is really move forward and advance this in numbers over the next year or so. We have “Explorers” in the Sheriff’s Department that work closely with our communities. They provide service to the community while learning police tactics like writing a police report and evidence collection.
I want to provide scholarships at the local level, for kids that are in the Explorer programs that really want to move into the field of law enforcement; scholarships to get them their AA degrees and possibly send them to the Police Academy. Later, we can welcome those kids to the Police Academy and resubmit them back into the community that they were raised in. They’ll understand the needs of the community, will be well trained, have an education and a solid future.
LM: So, most of the changes are to organizational structure?
MB: We’ve made more changes in the last 10 to 12 months than we have in the last 10 to 12 years. The future of this organization rests with the advancements in technology. A lot of people forget that we have investigators assigned to computer crimes, identity theft and internet predators. Cybercrime makes it extremely important that we are on top of what’s happening with the changes in technology. We use crime analysis and data spot mapping to show our highest likelihood of occurrence of crimes. We pay close attention to the different commodities that are being produced here in this county.
LM: For instance?
MB: Walnuts – we know when they are going to be harvested and we try to put extra patrol so that we can deter thieves from stealing the walnuts. We have an agricultural unit that follows a lot of what’s happening as far as our trending with commodities. But all of our jobs can be made easier if we stay on top of the use of good technology. Everything is advancing quickly.
LM: We read a lot in the news about copper theft.
MB: We pay close attention to the stock market when it comes to copper prices. We have detectives that watch the stock market. If copper prices go up, pump theft goes up.
LM: Theft goes up.
MB: Our damage to pumps for copper wire goes up and we try to pay attention to that. We work very diligently with the State of California with legislation in place to deter the type of recycling that takes place with copper wire theft. I think we’ve done a pretty good job.
LM: How else is technology helping you?
MB: One thing is we installed in-car video cameras in 17 of our patrol vehicles. And we’ve been able to show proper documentation of the deputies doing things right. Deputies throughout their career are oftentimes accused of doing the wrong thing, but I can tell you 9.9 times out of 10, the deputy is doing it right because we train our people well.
LM: Are there any other types of technology that you are implementing?
MB: We’ve done so many changes with technology. For anyone coming in not understanding what we’ve done or what we’re doing, is really behind the curve. In the past, deputies had to manually log the checks of the inmates, but we have recently implemented The Guardian Wand. This wand allows deputies to log the inmates with the simple touch of the wand. They have a metal piece on the cell that the deputies touch with the wand, and the data is automatically logged into the computer system. They no longer have to write; they just simply walk by, wand it and it’s done.
LM: Okay. Time Saver.
MB: And the other thing that we are moving to is video visiting for inmates in jail. Someone at home will be able to log in on their computer, the inmate will log in under a title number on the jail computer, and they can visit back and forth.
LM: Kind of like Skype.
MB: Yes, exactly like Skype. All videos will be recorded and we will have to get servers. These servers will continually monitor, control and record for evidence. What that does is it reduces one-on-one contact, eliminates contraband in the facilities or at least reduces the contraband. This is us staying on top of the advances in technology when it comes to inmate programs and contact.
LM: Is there anything out there that you guys don’t have that you would like to have? It seems like you’re keeping up with the technology at a pretty good pace, but is there something out there that bigger departments have?
MB: We’re keeping up with it, but there’s always something new. I would love to be able to put cameras in areas of highest likelihood of violence when it comes to gang actions and know areas of occurrence. I know there is a lot of controversy over the drones and I think that’s a long way off from us doing anything, but that’s being looked at.
LM: Our readers would like to know more about the man behind the badge. Can we talk about him?
MB: Of course.
LM: You live in Porterville. How did you end up there?
MB: I was born in Porterville and I was raised in a little community called California Hot Springs, east of Porterville, about 45 minutes up into the mountains. I went to a little elementary school where there were 45 students in the entire school. I always jest that I graduated valedictorian of my eighth grade class, but there were only three people in the class.
LM: What was it like growing up in such a small town?
MB: The best life a boy could ever ask for. I grew up with my brother who is now a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol. We both respected our dad so much that we both got into the field of law enforcement. But growing up there I hunted, fished. We rode horses in the meadows and we hiked and camped with my dad. I remember the days when it would snow, and we’d have to hope in the car and get me down to the local elementary school to get to school. It was just a great environment for a young man to grow up. I went to Porterville High School and from there I went to Porterville College. At Porterville College, I went to their EMT program before realizing that my true love was with the Sheriff’s Department. So at age 19 I was hired into the Cadet program and that’s where I started my career here.
Eventually I moved to Visalia and that’s where I met my wife, Angela. I was at my cousin’s bicycle shop downtown and happened to bump into her and have been together ever since. We have two small children, ages six and four.I also have a 19-year-old son from a previous marriage who attends Fresno State. He’s into his second year at Fresno State and I’m very proud of him.
LM: Is he going to follow in your footsteps?
MB: Kind of. I get along with his mom and stepdad very, very well. We all have a very cordial relationship. So he was initially going to get into what his stepdad does, which is environmental engineering. But he’s recently changed his focus, and he wants to become an attorney. So, either way, he’s going to be successful at it. He’s a very smart, young man who is very driven. He holds down a full-time job while attending Fresno State.
LS: From Visalia, back to Porterville?
MB: With my wife being an elementary school teacher in Porterville, living in Visalia and two young kids watched by family in Porterville, over the course of time we realized we were spending a lot of money and travel time. We decided to make the move to be closer to family, and make our lives easier. We found a little acre and a half place outside of Springville, up at Montgomery Ranch.
LM: Tell me about a typical Sunday with your family.
MB: Typical Sunday lately? [Laughter.]
LM: Your dream Sunday then?
MB: Even though we are in Porterville now, we still network all over the county. We have many friends in Visalia we still visit with. We started church at Visalia First Assembly about six years ago. And on a Sunday, we’ll get up in the morning and cook the kids pancakes and sausage, get them ready and then we’re out of the door to church. That afternoon, we’ll go home and play with the kids outside or we’ll just kick back and watch some TV, have some family time. That’s the perfect Sunday. I’m a full-time member of Visalia First Assembly and serve on the Board of Trustees. Our faith by claim is Christian and we announce that proudly.
LM: Faith is an important part of your life, how does that play into your everyday work life?
MB: When it comes to work life, I put a lot of prayer behind making major decisions. I make sure that I surround myself with experienced staff that puta lot of energy into making sure we’re making the right decisions. I pray for the men and women in this department. When it comes to the job, church and state have to keep separate but there are times when, under my breath I’m praying for the safety of the men and women who serve.
LM: Tell me, one last question, maybe something, your best friend doesn’t know about you.
MB: Let’s see. He’s my best friend so I’m trying to think of something he doesn’t know. Because I would ordinarily tell you the amount of prayer and solace and thought that I put into what I do on a daily basis, but he knows that. I think that the average person may not know the very, my very core of what I am today is not what I was 20 years ago and I’m proud of that fact. You know, I’ve had my time of being young being foolish. I can tell you that what I am today is very focused on family, making sure that I’m making the right decisions, but my inner core is the amount of, amount that I put into my faith. But he knows that.