The number of sheriff's deputies patrolling unincorporated areas such as Lakeland Village other parts of Riverside County is set to increase soon thanks to a freshly-graduated group.
Following completion of six months of basic training, 23 graduates walked in a ceremony held Thursday in Riverside, it was announced. The graduates are the first in a replacement stream to rebuild staffing after 2011 cutbacks in unincorporated areas, according to a news release. Some of the new deputies will also be assigned to local jails.
Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff sought and was given approval in June 2012 by the Board of Supervisors to deficit-spend to begin hiring in an effort to restore previous staffing levels.
During the prior year, positions vacated by attrition were not filled, resulting in a decrease of deputies assigned to unincorporated communities such as Murrieta Hot Springs, French Valley, Winchester, Aguanga and Anza Valley.
"The new deputies will allow the Sheriff's Department to bring these patrol strength levels back to 1.0 deputies/1,000 population," said sheriff's spokesperson Deputy Albert Martinez.
"In the previous fiscal year, the Board of Supervisors directed the reduction to .75/1,000 for budget purposes. In addition, as a result of AB 109 Realignment, the Sheriff is expanding jail staffing to deal with the added burdens shifted to the counties by the state in October 2011."
Additional academy classes are underway and will continue in successive waves, as will continuous hiring by the department, Martinez said.
"The Sheriff told the Board of Supervisors in June 2012 that he needed a decision that month to have the unincorporated patrol force beefed up by mid-2014 due to the long lead times in recruiting, testing, background investigations, and training of new deputies in accordance with state POST standards. The Sheriff's budget will be readjusted later this fiscal year by the CEO to accommodate the directed hiring increase."
The Basic Academy is offered at the Ben Clark Training Center and satisfies the minimum requirements established by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, according to the news release.
The Moreno Valley College, Riverside Community College District, provides college credits for these classes in partnership with BCTC. BCTC conducts these training courses throughout the year in Riverside under certification by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department through POST.