In recent years, we have pushed for the Sheriff’s Department to utilize its natural resources of Custody Assistants when recruiting for Deputies just as efficiently as they do for the needs of the unit when they are short Deputies. There were too many stories of applications expiring, disqualifications without reason or the incident that everyone told you not to worry about getting you disqualified with the general “You can reapply” statement.
Those productive discussions with the Department led to a shift in thinking and the realization that the next generation of patrol Deputies, Sergeants and Lieutenants is here — and they bring an institutional knowledge that an off-the-street person (despite their education) does not possess.
Nevertheless, with that uptick in absorbing C/As comes the adverse effect of diminishing numbers. Every facility is facing increases in mandatory overtime, CARP and drafting, and station jails are stuck with no means of increases in staffing.
Reinforcements are coming. As this article is received, Custody Assistant Class #105 will have graduated and been assigned to one of our various custody facilities, and Class #106 was scheduled to begin two weeks afterward.
The hope is that as the new fiscal year begins, these classes will be two of a few to add some relief to an overworked and unappreciated group.
I mentioned station jailers. The drumbeat continues to figure out a way to get additional items into the stations. The recent policy changes regarding trustees and walks for jailers add another layer of work and accountability.
There are stations that compound the issues with their reluctance or refusal to hire jailer overtime. The usage of non-jailer-trained deputies creates work for the jailer. It also costs the unit money, as the practice of hiring a deputy behind the busted field item instead of just hiring another jailer simply makes no sense.
Some headway was made initially between PPOA, Custody and Patrol divisions, and they set a tentative plan in place. However, the initial onset of COVID, along with a turnover in command, brought it to a halt. PPOA plans to restart those conversations, yet the staffing concerns on the custody end play a significant role in how, if and when any relief for jailers can be achieved.
The primary election is over, and the two candidates remaining for the runoff in November are the incumbent, Sheriff Villanueva, and the challenger, retired Long Beach Chief Robert Luna. What does this mean for you, the Department and PPOA?
Individually, we all have our own perspectives. Department-wise, we have been through a difficult stretch with mandates, staffing shortages, hiring freezes and numerous changes on the executive level. Organizationally, navigating and working with the Department has been at times challenging, to say the least.
We will continue to meet with the Department regarding any potential disciplinary process changes and the pending court hearing as PPOA challenges the Board of Supervisors’ attempts to take control of the Department’s discipline.
The next few months will be telling as more information becomes available. Please monitor your email for updates from PPOA.
Take care. Be safe.