Critiques of jails miss larger issue: Staffing

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson The question the supervisors should be asking themselves is: Why can’t the sheriff fill 1,100 positions? And why are 100 to 150 deputies leaving the Sheriff’s Department every year for a career at another law enforcement agency? At the current rate of net increase in staffing, the Sheriff’s Department will reach its current authorized and safe staffing levels in about 120 years. Of the ever-decreasing number of qualified people considering a career in law enforcement, none of them expects to be exceptionally well paid. All of them, however, compare the pay and benefits between the agencies that are hiring. And the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department does not compare well. Our pay and benefits are fast falling behind other Los Angeles County police agencies, and all of them are hiring by the scores. That leaves the county at the end of the line on recruiting, and at the front of the line on sworn personnel transferring to other agencies. The current county budget and the next both include the salary and benefits for 1,100 deputies who are not currently on the payroll. For each month that goes by, we are less safe, we can expect more problems in the jails. For a small percentage of the amount the county is already allocating to the Sheriff’s Department, for what amounts to vacant positions, the Board of Supervisors could make our pay and benefits package competitive with other agencies. The supervisors should look at the problems of recruiting and retaining in the Sheriff’s Department, and make the obvious determination that there should be a plan in place to aim compensation at a level that will allow recruiting and retaining of sworn personnel. I know that I speak for many deputy sheriffs and police officers when I say that I did not take the job of a peace officer because it paid well. The fact is, it still doesn’t. Most of us are willing to work hard, in a dangerous job, because the pay is fair – or at least it should be – and because the medical and retirement benefits are a secure commodity that I can count on when I retire. Deputy sheriffs are the individuals who are willing to stand guard in the jails with arguably the largest group of the most dangerous people in the country. We are the individuals who are willing to confront violent suspects to keep Los Angeles County residents and businesses safe. All we ask is that the county provide the resources to hire enough of us to do the job safely. Steve Remige is president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors seem to think it’s appropriate for them to berate Sheriff’s Department commanders for the problems with safety in our county jails. But it’s the board that’s failing to properly fund public safety programs that would easily prevent most of what they claim concerns them. There is a direct correlation between deploying enough sworn personnel and keeping our jails and patrol areas safe. Having enough deputies on duty simply means safer streets and safer jails. But our deputy sheriffs are working 1,100 deputies below authorized staffing levels, thanks to a hiring freeze imposed by the sheriff three years ago. Because of the staffing shortages, deputies are routinely ordered to work forced overtime. It is not at all uncommon for deputies working the jails to be held over to work an extra shift because the minimum staffing levels could not be otherwise secured. It should be obvious what this practice does to morale. Moreover, overtime is more expensive for the county. Proper staffing levels would also allow the deployment of two-officer cars in neighborhoods where safety and backup make the difference between life and death. On more than one occasion, we have lost a deputy sheriff because he was deployed as a single-officer car in a gang- and crime-impacted area. last_img

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