What Will the Loss of Ten Sheriff’s Deputies Mean for Yolo County?

Sheriff-PrietoLast week as we arrived at court, we discovered a number of familiar faces gone.  Deputy Sheriffs who provide security among other services to the court had been laid off.

Because of state laws which require the sheriff to adequately staff the courthouse, Sheriff Ed Prieto was forced to move deputies from the field to the courthouse.  That means there are now ten fewer Sheriff’s Deputies in the field protecting the community.

Sheriff Ed Prieto told the Board of Supervisors last week that a pay increase of four percent, retroactive to July, that was not in the initial budget, opened up what turned into a nearly $800,000 deficit.

They started the process by eliminating – not replacing – a captain, a lieutenant, and three sergeant positions.  However, that did not get them as far as they needed to go.

“That is causing some difficulties as far as supervisory/ supervisorial division of the officers,” the Sheriff told the Board of Supervisors.

They also changed the shift from twelve hours to eight hours, cutting down on overtime which was a major cost of nearly $300,000 per year.

The Sheriff said even with the layoff of ten deputies, they still are $200,000 in the hole.  “We are hoping we will get that through not promoting officers,” the Sheriff added, “and also through the reduction of overtime, we will make up some of that.  I doubt seriously that we will make up all of it in the next four month, five months.  But we’re going to make up a large portion of it.”

The Sheriff said that they would like to bring some of the deputies back in the next fiscal year, “We need them, the community needs them, I think it’s important for the unincorporated areas that we have enough officers out there that we respond to the calls.”

He continued, “Currently we are doing the best with what we have.  This concept that we can do more with less is absolutely untrue in my opinion – you are doing less with less, it’s that simple.”

While the Sheriff’s report last week was bad, the worse news is that yet again the county is expecting to be hit with eight figure budget shortfalls.  If $13 million is not nearly what it has been the last two years, people ought to recognize that this is on top of the tens of millions already cut in the last few budget cycles.

The Sheriff also warned, “If we don’t come up with some sort of more budget funding, my big fear is that we’ll have to lay off more deputies or start closing a larger part of Leinberger facility.”

Does removing Sheriff’s Deputies from the field in the unincorporated areas make the public less safe?  There is little doubt about that.

The problem that the county is grappling with is the magnitude of the cuts across the board, stripping vital services for health care and mental health, in addition to law enforcement.

The Sheriff’s Department has seen its ranks cut from 32 deputies just two years ago to 17 or 18 following the most recent round of cuts.  But recognize this, the Sheriff’s deputies had largely been unscathed until this year.  There has been little discussion as to why Sheriff’s employees received a 4.6 percent raise this year at the same time the county was laying off employees and furloughing others.

There is another factor as well.  For instance, Sheriff Prieto is concerned that they will have to lay off even more deputies or close most of the Leinberger minimum-security jail, a facility that presently can house around 140 inmates.

At the same time, if you look at the budget for the larger Monroe Detention Center, one has to ask if it isn’t time to start reforming our criminal justice system in Yolo County.

The Vanguard, through its court watch program, the Yolo Judicial Watch, consistently talks to out-of-county attorneys.  They continue to be amazed by Yolo County’s charging policies.

One attorney recently asked me, “What the hell is going on in Yolo?”

They continued, “I sit there and watch what is going on, the offers, what is going on with the case I’m appearing on, and it is ridiculous.  What should be misdemeanors are still felonies.”

Cut down on that and you can eliminate a huge amount of the problems at Monroe and therefore reduce the need for staff in jails, which would enable more to be available to patrol the unincorporated areas.

At some point, those in charge are going to have recognize that the money is not coming back anytime soon and we must therefore change the way that we are doing business.

No one wants to see Sheriff’s Deputies have to be laid off.  Unfortunately, some choices were made to increase salary which created a deficit that had to be closed.  And the Sheriff’s Department is not alone in this regard.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. E Roberts Musser

    Perhaps the sheriff’s employees should consider taking a pay cut, in order for sheriff’s employees to be able to keep their jobs. As I understand it from this article, the $800,000 hole could have been plugged if sheriff’s employees would have agreed not to take the 4.6% raise, no? Or am I missing something? Another question – are the sheriff’s employees unionized?

  2. Rifkin

    [i]Who approved the salary increases and when? [/i]

    According to The Sacramento Bee ([url]http://www.sacbee.com/2011/03/02/3441683/pension-perks-that-slipped-in.html#storylink=omni_popular[/url]): [quote]Budget-strapped Yolo County approved the most generous retirement enhancements of any jurisdiction locally, almost doubling benefits for sheriff’s deputies in 2008 and giving non-safety workers a 25 percent pension boost. And those benefits were approved retroactively, meaning that the new, richer formulas were applied to employees’ prior years worked, not just future years – an extraordinary windfall for those workers near retirement age.

    Three of five Yolo supervisors – Mike McGowan, Mariko Yamada and Helen Thomson – approved the benefits in 2007. Only Duane Chamberlain voted “no” on the enhancements both times, in 2007 and 2008. [/quote]

  3. Rifkin

    I am shocked, shocked that our Board of Supervisors have not been fiscally responsible.

    [b]Rick:[/b] [i] How can you close me up? On what grounds? [/i]
    [b]Captain Renault:[/b] [i]I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! [/i]

  4. craised

    The county doesn’t give their employees raises anymore. They simply reclassify their position. For instance, two years ago the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors made plus or minus $60,000 a year. Today the pay scale for that very same position is over $90,000.00. Poof!!! They just reclassified the position.
    For well over two years upper and middle management have been playing musical chairs. My question is, in the past two years, exactly how many county employees job titles have been reclassified in order for them to receive pay increases?

  5. jonlancaster

    I’m not sure, but I suspect the deputies in Yolo County are unionized and have a collective bargaining agreement. I know this is true in Placer County.

    Also in Placer there is something in their contract that by law pegs their pay to the pay of deputies in surrounding counties (Nevada, El Dorado, Sac), which means there is a continuing upward spiral in compensation.

    (see http://www.placer.ca.gov/News/2011/February/DSA.aspx)

    Also in lots of counties the deputies work 3×12 hours one week, 4×12 hours the next week, meaning they get 4 hours of overtime pay each day they work. Yolo switching from 12 to 8 hour shifts should save lots of money.

    And these guys make lots of overtime money. Here’s an article from San Mateo County:


    David, I would love to see Yolo Judicial Watch do a similar study for Yolo… 😉

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