The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Hilda L. Solis to adopt an effective strategy to increase and maintain sworn staffing levels in the Sheriff’s Department.
“In Los Angeles County and nationwide, law enforcement agencies are struggling with recruiting and hiring qualified sworn personnel,” Supervisor Barger said. “The department is meeting many of its existing responsibilities by relying heavily on mandatory overtime, which prevents the department from addressing additional needs and places an added burden on deputies working extra hours.”
“Sheriff McDonnell considers this challenge a top priority and our labor law partners are working collaboratively with us to help meet this need,” she added.
The department hosts eight academy classes per year with an average class size of 80 recruits. Coupled with a 25% attrition rate in the academy, the department can hire a maximum of approximately 480 sworn personnel per year. However, these classes have not been enough to alleviate the staffing crisis.
“Sheriff’s Department vacancies lower morale and put our communities at risk,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “I have heard from residents in my district including East LA about long response times – and this isn’t due to a lack of trying on behalf of the Sheriff’s Department. Especially as we further develop the county’s diversion efforts, we must do what we can to identify the best way for the Sheriff’s Department to fill their vacancies.”
The problem is delaying expansion of the successful Mental Evaluation Teams (MET) and the implementation of the “Access to Care” bureau. Promotions are similarly impacted as shortages in the deputy sheriff positions impact vacancies in other ranks, including sergeants who serve an important supervisory role and reduce risk and liability.
The Supervisors’ motion directs the Chief Executive Officer to retain an outside consultant with subject matter expertise in recruitment and retention practices to assist with creative strategies and lasting solutions to the recruitment and retention of sworn personnel.
Some of the suggestions include a robust outreach effort, an advertising and marketing campaign and a thorough examination of best practices used by other law enforcement agencies for retention, including the use of stipends and/or bonuses. The Chief Executive Officer will provide a status report to the Board in 90 days and quarterly thereafter.