In a statement, the Tehama County Sheriff's Office (TCSO) said it will "suspend daytime patrol services to its designated areas of responsibility within Tehama County" beginning Nov. 20. It explained that "this added reduction of services is necessary to manage a catastrophic staffing shortage throughout the agency."
"Over the past several years, the [TCSO] has had difficulties with recruitment and retention of employees, which has been directly linked to pay disparities. A drastic rise in attrition, coupled with the inability to present enticing recruitment efforts, has resulted in an unprecedented staffing shortage."
According to the statement, staffing shortages in the custody division have forced the TCSO to reassign deputies from the operations division to fill vacancies within the county courts and prisons. This restructuring left the operations division, which is in charge of patrols, with insufficient officers to sustain 24-hour patrol services.
In spite of the situation, the TSCO said it will maintain night patrols and that "deputies assigned to night shift patrol will triage and respond to the open, non-emergency calls for service that come in throughout the day."
Officials at the agency have also met with their counterparts at the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to discuss the parameters of emergency response within Tehama County. Per the press release, the CHP will respond to life-threatening emergencies during the hours that the TCSO is unable to provide patrol.
"The [TCSO] is committed to continuing all recruitment efforts and working toward restoring patrol services when staffing levels permit."
Home to around 66,000, Tehama County has a significantly higher crime rate than state and national averages. Its most populous city, Red Bluff, has a violent crime of nearly 9.79 per 1,000 residents – making it more dangerous than 97 percent of cities in the United States. (Related: California DA: SHOPLIFTING in the Golden State is out of control, soft-on-crime policies to blame.)
Speaking to KRCR 7, Lt. Rob Bakken of the TSCO said the agency lost 20 employees over the past year. He added that job applicant numbers are low, which means that the sheriff's office has a hard time replacing people who hand in their resignations.
"Obviously, response times are going to be affected. We've made the decisions to limit, as much as we can, the dangers to public safety," he told the ABC affiliate. "But not having deputies on the streets, obviously, is not beneficial to the public."
One job posting for a deputy in Tehama County offers an hourly wage of between $25 and $30, equating to a salary of around $52,000 to $62,000 without overtime pay. In contrast, a deputy in Solano County located south of Tehama gets an annual salary of $82,000.
Despite the smaller compensation, Bakken insisted there are advantages to applying as a deputy in the TSCO.
"This is a small, rural area. There are benefits to working in a rural area – there's more outdoor activity, it's a place where you would want to raise your family. As well as being a smaller agency, we are more of a family environment."
A Nov. 7 post by the Tehama County Deputy Sheriff's Association (TCDSA), however, pointed to county supervisors as having a big role in the exodus of employees.
"We have spoken [with] the [County] Board [of Supervisors] and warned them that staffing levels are too low. Rather than take swift and decisive action, they have delayed and allowed too many good employees to leave," it stated.
According to the association's post, the daytime patrol is not the only unit affected by staff shortages. Several housing units within the TCSO's jail department have been shut down, and the dispatch center under the operations division was forced to temporarily suspend activities.
"We will continue to do everything we can for the great citizens of Tehama County," the TCDSA reiterated.
CaliforniaCollapse.news has more about staff shortages in different sheriff's offices in California.
Watch Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey reject calls for police de-funding, a major contributing factor to staff shortages in law enforcement departments.
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