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O.C. sheriff to stay on job while battling breast cancer

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and will cut back on her public appearances while undergoing treatment.

Hutchens revealed the recent medical diagnosis at a press conference Monday afternoon, and said that -– after her first chemotherapy session –- she wrote a memo to her command staff, asking them to help her by picking up some of her duties.

Hutchens, who was measured and occasionally emotional, said she’s been told to expect a full recovery but that she will have to undergo chemotherapy, surgery and, ultimately, radiation treatment.

“I’m very optimistic about it,” she said.

Hutchens assumed command of California’s second-largest sheriff’s department in 2008, succeeding Michael S. Carona, who is now in federal prison for witness tampering.

“She’s going to continue to work,” said Jim Amormino, the department's spokesman. “When appropriate, the command staff will fill in for her.”

Hutchens, a former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, was widely viewed as an outsider when the Board of Supervisors appointed her sheriff by a 3-2 vote in 2008, following Carona’s indictment on corruption charges.

But in 2010 she won election to the post with nearly 52% of the vote. She is widely credited with cleaning up a department ravaged by scandal.

“What I found was a department that did not have modern policing policies, did not have systems of accountability, a risk-management system,” she once told The Times. “That was the biggest surprise to me when I came in.”


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-- Rick Rojas and Christopher Goffard

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