October 19, 1966
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department busted a cockfighting operation in the Nipomo area this week. With assistance from the Humane Society, five men were arrested, their breeding and training operation with than 2,000 birds was documented.Over 40 years ago Sheriff Larry Mansfield was embroiled in a cockfighting controversy.
Quoting from Walt Beesley’s story,
An account of how campaign contributions for Sheriff Larry Mansfield were solicited and given during south county cockfights is contained in a so-called “hush-hush” state report which the Telegram-Tribune makes public today.The report also contains the statement that cockfighters were to be tipped off in advance of any raids by the sheriff’s department.
A single-spaced, 111 page, report from an agent of the California Department of Justice was filed with the Grand Jury. The paper took the extra step of printing the entire text of the report in 15 subsequent editions.
Judge Richard F. Harris granted a discovery motion that made the report available to defendants and the public.
The Sheriff-Coroner had loyal supporters who argued in re-election advertisements that the charges were a political attack. Mansfield won his second term by an almost 11% margin on the same law-and-order landslide that swept Ronald Reagan into office.
Today our county takes an aggressive approach to prosecuting the blood sport of cockfighting. Not all counties do. State law in California has not kept up with other states according to the Eric Sakach, chief response officer with the Humane Society of the United States. He investigates the crime nationally and tracks trends.
Possession of gamecocks for fighting is a misdemeanor in California but a felony in many other states. This vacuum draws illegal activity to the state with the lower penalty.