SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - A recent Grand Jury report concerning a mandatory overtime policy has some Santa Barbara County Sheriff Custody Deputies applauding.
In a story broken on KEYT.com several days ago, a report from the Grand Jury highlights what some custody deputies say has been an ongoing problem for years. And, the release of the report comes just weeks before the Santa Barbara County Sheriff election.
John Tena the Vice President of the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriff's Association agreed with the report claiming they are tired of being forced to work overtime, "We have been addressing this with the sheriff over the years, saying that we need to hire more staff ... every day at the jail, we are using voluntary overtime, which is people who want to volunteer and mandatory overtime just to meet the minimum standards at the jail."
Tena says members of the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriff's Association believe the Grand Jury's report raising significant questions about mandatory overtime and staffing is accurate. And, fears the problem will only get worse when the new county jail opens in Santa Maria.
"We need to have proper staffing down here in order to maintain staffing in the northern branch jail ... public safety is most important we need to let people know we have enough staff to work in the jail and enough staff to work in the field," said Tena.
The Grand Jury report concluded overtime and recruiting were a low priority at the Sheriff's office.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office released a statement on May 10 in which Sheriff Bill Brown says he strongly disagrees with the Grand Jury and said recruitment is a high priority. The full statement reads:
“The Sheriff’s Office has only recently received the Grand Jury Report concerning Mandatory Overtime in the jail. We are reviewing this report and will prepare a detailed response. However, we strongly disagree with one of the Grand Jury’s findings which indicates recruitment is a low priority for the Sheriff’s Office. On the contrary, recruitment is one of our highest priorities and will remain so. Also, independent of the Grand Jury’s report, we have developed and implemented a number of strategies in regards to our recruitment. We have already taken steps that are in alignment with the Grand Jury’s recommendations. While this is a challenging time for law enforcement recruitment, we are up to the task.”
Two other deputies, Lieutenants Brian Olmstead and Eddie Hsueh are challenging Sheriff Brown in the 2018 election.