The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is faced with cutting 800 positions from it payroll and the losses could “seriously undermine public safety in the county,” the president of the deputies' union said today.
Pat McNamara, head of the 3,500-member Riverside Sheriffs' Association, said the cuts would be unprecedented.
The possibility of significant layoffs was the subject of a memo distributed to sheriff's employees Friday. In it, Sheriff Stan Sniff reiterated the financial burdens on the sheriff's department stemming from spending cuts in the 2011-12 fiscal year. “Unfortunately, these cuts will necessitate staffing reductions,'' he wrote.
The proposed 800 layoffs are more than twice the original estimate submitted by the sheriff during an
According to a department news release that was distributed Friday, contract cities will be unaffected by the cuts.
The same cannot be said for the nearly 200-square-mile unincorporated area surrounding Lake Elsinore and Wildomar.
Sheriff’s officials warned Friday that the massive cuts would affect manpower in unincorporated areas, and countywide would cut gang task force efforts, increase response times, have a negative impact on sexual predator arrests, reduce patrol aviation hours and force closure of several sheriff’s substations.
The Sheriff's Department estimates that the budget cuts, if approved as proposed, will force unincorporated patrol levels down to .75 per 1,000 residents. Currently, for every 1,000 residents there is one patrol.
"If any significant layoffs take place, it's going to be devastating,'' McNamara said. "Any amount of cuts in the law enforcement force is going to degrade public safety. Four hundred layoffs would be devastating, in our estimation, to sheriff's operations."
Under the supervisors proposed budget, Sniff is prepared to send out the 800 layoff notices starting July 1, according to sheriff's Corporal Courtney Donowho.
"The first wave of layoffs will involve 100 deputy sheriffs and correctional deputies that will end their duties on July 13,'' Donowho said, adding that notifications have already started to go out to the County HR Director and to the labor organization representing those staff members.
Notices to individual deputies will go out May 16, the corporal said.
“We will await the decision of the Board on what funding they ultimately approve next year for our department, and we will vigorously execute their decision as part of the County team," Sniff said. "We will professionally make the best of whatever outcome occurs, but we all understand that the budget reflects the public’s priority on how their taxpayer dollars are allocated and spent.” --City News Service and Jessica E. Davis contributed to this report.