Table of Contents


Amador County Office of the Sheriff-Coroner

Reason for Review

The Grand Jury reviewed the Amador County Detention Facility as required by law pursuant to Penal Code sections 919(b) and 921, and reviewed the Amador County Sheriff’s Office pursuant to Penal Code section 925.

Background

The Amador County Office of the Sheriff-Coroner (Sheriff’s Office) is responsible for general law enforcement, crime prevention and suppression in the unincorporated areas of the county.  Operation of the County’s detention center (county jail) and the 911/Dispatch Center are also included in Sheriff’s Office area of responsibility.  In addition, the following areas are some but not all of the other activities administered by the Sheriff’s Office:

 The Dispatch Center is responsible for the following duties in addition to others not listed:

Methodology

The Grand Jury toured the Sheriff’s Office and detention facility on several occasions, reviewed the documents, and interviewed staff as listed.  In addition, members did a ride-along with a Deputy Sheriff on patrol, observed the dispatch center in operation, and observed the operation of the detention facility, including return of inmates from court, booking, release of parolees, preparation and distribution of evening meals, distribution of medicines, and sampled an inmate meal. 

Persons interviewed:

Documents examined:

Sites visited:

Facts

1.       The status of allocated positions and current staffing levels as of January 20, 2001 is listed below:

 

Areas

Number of Authorized Positions

Number of Filled Positions

Number ofVacant Positions

Operations

35

35

0

Dispatch

14

6 (+2 in training)

6 to 8

Corrections (Jail)

37

25

12

 

2.       The recruitment and attrition statistics as of January 20, 2001 are summarized below:

 

Areas

Number of Written Exams Given

Number of Oral Exams Given

Number of Background Checks Conducted

Number Hired

Number

Still Employed

Dispatch

95

35

17

4

2 (two left due to stress)

Deputies

75

54

12

6 (one left for not meeting probation)

5

Correctional Officers(CO)

95

26

15

1

1

 

3.       The understaffing of COs and Dispatchers leads to overtime in order to cover existing shifts.

4.       All the current full-time Dispatchers at the Sheriff’s Office are certified Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMDs) and have additional training which qualifies them to give medical instructions on the phone prior to Medics’ arrival on scene.

5.       The Amador County Sheriff’s Office has lost experienced Deputies, COs and EMDs to other law enforcement agencies, due in large part to salary inequities. 

6.       The Sheriffs Office has been hampered in hiring adequate replacement personnel due to salary inequities.

7.       The Sheriff’s Office salary survey disclosed pay-scale inequities with surrounding counties and other law enforcement agencies within the County. 

8.       In early 2001, the Amador County Board amended the contract governing wages to bring the equivalent positions to a level on par with agencies reviewed in the salary survey.

9.       Since the salary structure change, Dispatch staffing has improved and overtime has been reduced.  They now have seven full-time Dispatcher/EMDs, one Dispatcher Supervisor, one Dispatcher/EMD in training, and three Dispatch prospects in the final interview stage.

10.   A new recruitment brochure has been created and implemented.

11.   The 1999-2000 Grand Jury reported, and the 2000-2001 Grand Jury confirmed that the Sheriff’s Office administration area, detention facility, and EOS center need expansion and/or re-location.

12.   The problem outlined by the 1999-2000 Grand Jury about temperature of meals has been corrected.

13.   The Sheriff’s Office contracts with an outside agency to prepare meals for the inmates.  These meals are prepared off-site, frozen, transported to the detention facility, stored in an onsite freezer and re-heated as needed.

14.   The room used to store and re-heat the meals is located outside the entrance to the vehicle sallyport.  This requires inmate trustees and staff who re-heat the meals to walk outside the detention facility building (still in a secure area) approximately twelve feet to access the re-heat oven room.

15.   Building plans have been created to remodel/expand the administration area and the detention facility, including a new kitchen.  These plans are almost through final checks and approvals prior to being released for construction bids.

Findings

1.       In order to attract qualified personnel, it is important to maintain salary structures that are comparable to other nearby law enforcement agencies.

2.       In order to maintain employee safety and provide the necessary services to the community, adequate staffing is essential. 

3.       The current location of the oven room used to re-heat the meals is no problem in good weather, but in the winter, the inmates who re-heat the meals, supervising COs, and equipment (two carts) may be exposed to inclement weather.

Recommendations

To the Sheriff’s Office:

1.       Construct a temporary cover for the area between the vehicle sallyport and the reheat oven room at the Detention Center until the new kitchen (part of the remodel plan) is completed.  This would enable equipment and personnel to move back and forth without being exposed to inclement weather. 

To the Board:

2.       Work with the Sheriff’s Office to ensure that the conditions of recruitment and employment are attractive enough to find and retain the best available personnel to serve the citizens of Amador County.  Maintain competitive salary levels to assure the Sheriff’s Office can be staffed by qualified, dedicated and adequately-rested personnel. 

3.       Give support to the Sheriff’s Office remodel projects in order to move ahead with construction as soon as possible.

Response Required

As required in Section 933.05 of the Penal Code, the Sheriff’s Office and the Board of Supervisors must respond to the findings and recommendations directed to them in the manner indicated on page one of this report.