California Sheriff Cancels Daytime Patrols Amid ‘Catastrophic’ Staffing Shortage

California Sheriff Cancels Daytime Patrols Amid ‘Catastrophic’ Staffing Shortage
A file photo of a County Sheriff's department vehicle in Agua Dulce, Calif., on June 1, 2021. (Patrick Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
Jill McLaughlin

A Northern California sheriff’s department will suspend all daytime patrols starting Nov. 20 amid a “catastrophic staffing shortage,” according to department officials.

The small sheriff’s office headquartered in Red Bluff, Tehama County, has had difficulties recruiting and retaining employees, Sheriff Dave Hencratt said in a statement Nov. 7.

“A drastic rise in attrition, coupled with the inability to present enticing recruitment efforts have resulted in an unprecedented staffing shortage,” Hencratt said.

In the last year, the department has lost more than 20 employees, and the number of new applicants is low, Lt. Rob Bakken with the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office told KRCR. The sheriff’s office has around 126 employees, according to its website.

The department will continue to attend to calls during night hours while the California Highway Patrol will be responding to life-threatening emergencies in the county during the day, but details about the cooperation are ongoing, Hencratt said.

“Deputies assigned to night shift patrol will triage and respond to the open, non-emergency calls for service that come in throughout the day,” he said.

Besides the patrol cut, several housing units within the county jail were shut down, and the dispatch center was also temporarily closed.

Labor Negotiations With County

The department has spoken with the county’s board of supervisors for several years and warned them about the low staffing levels, according to the sheriff’s social media announcement.

“Rather than take swift and decisive action, they have delayed and allowed too many good employees to leave,” the department wrote.

County Administrator Gabriel Hydrick told The Epoch Times the county was not aware of the sheriff’s decision before the press release was made public.

Labor negotiations between the county and two groups representing the department’s employees were ongoing, Hydrick said.

The day after the sheriff’s announcement, the board of supervisors approved a motion that would authorize a nearly 23-percent raise for deputy sheriffs and other pay increases for members of the Deputy Sheriff’s Administration.

The raises would also be implemented within one year, according to Hydrick.

“That’s unheard of,” Hydrick said. “You won’t find that anywhere else.”

One of the two groups has approved the agreement.

Despite the board’s approval for new raises, the department “will be moving forward with the original plan,” Lt. Derek Sherrill told The Epoch Times.

The department will continue recruiting and work to restore patrol services, according to the department.

Patrol Cut Can be ‘Catastrophic’ for Residents: Retired Sergeant

The rural county, with 64,000 residents, according to the Census Bureau, has been struggling with deputy shortages and insufficient daytime patrol for years as deputies are called to appear in court or are on sick leave, county officials said.

“A lack of day patrol is not new, especially in today’s environment where it is very tough to be a Deputy or Correctional Officer,” the county wrote in a statement. “What is new is a willingness to publicize this structural weakness to criminals right before the holiday season and declare open season on our law-abiding residents and visitors.”

National Police Association Spokeswoman Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith told Fox News the daytime service cut would be “catastrophic for the citizens” as Red Bluff’s violent crime rate is 97 percent higher, she said, than the rest of the county.

Tehama County sheriff’s deputies are paid $20,000 to $40,000 less than other departments in the area, and the jail is staffed at 60 percent, Smith said. Beyond that, California law enforcement officers feel vilified and exhausted.

“They’re tired of being called racist. They’re tired of being lied to,” she said. “Cops just want to do their job, and that job is to protect their communities, but they have got to make a living wage to do this.”

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.
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