OC Deputies Facing Only 7 “possible” Layoffs -so far

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens

While the Sheriff’s Department managers are flying to LA for Chili Cook-offs, and keeping on payroll more than 70 highly paid double-dipping management retirees; more information on the looming budget cuts facing the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) is starting to seep out.

Yesterday evening an email went out to Sheriff’s deputies from their union leadership describing what they are facing in the latest round of cuts. In stark contrast to the cuts faced by non-deputies represented by Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), the Sheriff is proposing cutting only 7 Investigator positions and all of those positions have available lower ranking positions available for the affected investigators to move into.

I find it particularly disturbing that while the non-sworn employees that OCEA represents make up nearly 50% of the OCSD workforce, they have had to absorb almost 92% of the cuts implemented and proposed so far.

Below is the letter that the Association of Orange Cout Deputy Sheriff’s (AOCDS) sent out yesterday to his members.

As we advised earlier this week, AOCDS President Wayne Quint, Treasurer Tom Dominguez, Executive Director Mark Nichols, AOCDS legal counsel Chuck Goldwasser and staff met with the County and representatives of the Sheriff’s Department on the issue of layoffs in the Department. 

In an unprecedented action by a sitting Sheriff, we have been told that there will be layoffs of sworn peace officers at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.  We have been assured by the County and the Department that no AOCDS members will lose their jobs during this initial budget reduction.

The County and the Department presented a detailed explanation of the necessity for these cuts.  AOCDS President Wayne Quint asked what committee or group of Sheriff’s Department personnel came to the decision as presented to us today.  We were told that the layoffs were as a result of recommendations from Captains and Commanders to the Assistant Sheriffs, the Undersheriff and the Sheriff.  We were told the ultimate decision came from Sheriff Hutchens.

For the remainder of 2009, the Department presented documentation of a $24 million dollar shortfall.  The estimated shortfall for 2010-2011 is currently projected to be $65 million dollars.  The Department is seeking federal monies that could offset $10 million dollars of that shortfall and is researching the possibility of additional revenues from reserve funds that could total $4 million dollars.  It was emphasized to AOCDS representatives at the meeting that the belief is the layoffs that were presented at the meeting would be the only layoffs of AOCDS members at this time.  We were told that there may be future layoffs. 

The Department explained that there will be seven (7) investigators affected by these layoffs.  Despite vehement protests from AOCDS the Department is planning for the layoffs to come from the following locations in the department:

investigator from Fugitive Warrants

(3) investigators from Homicide including (1) from BRAT; (1) vacant position due to military leave currently identified as an Internal Criminal position; (1) undetermined position at this time

investigator from RNSP

 investigator from South Narcotics

       (1) investigator from Special Operations

The affected personnel will be contacted by the Department no later than February 5, 2010.  Per our Memorandum of Understanding with the County, affected personnel will be given three (3) days to decide if they will accept the layoff or accept an assignment to a position in the Department as a Deputy II.  AOCDS was told at the meeting that there are available Deputy II positions in the Department to accommodate all affected personnel.  Affected personnel will not have a choice as to the Deputy II assignment they are offered.  Each of the affected personnel will be placed on an “Investigator eligible” list, for a period of up to two (2) years.  If an opening occurs for an Investigator, the most senior affected person (based on County seniority) may be returned to the posit ion of Investigator.  Additional openings for the position of Investigator would be handled in the same manner.

There are many more details involved in this process that cannot be explained in this Advisory.  AOCDS President Wayne Quint, members of the Board of Directors, Executive Director Mark Nichols, legal counsel Chuck Goldwasser and staff will be available to all members affected by these layoffs.  At the meeting today, we were not told the names of any of the affected personnel.

It is important to note that the AOCDS emphatically opposes the recommendation for layoffs by Sheriff Hutchens.  AOCDS President Wayne Quint was outspoken in his suggestion that Sheriff Hutchens should look at newly implemented programs and units to recover the necessary funds to keep line personnel in their current assignments.  It was pointed out to the County and the Department that while units such as S.A.F.E. and programs such as the Office of Independent Review continue to drain assets, the elimination of these investigative positions will severely delay the investigation of hundreds of crimes and potentially place members of the public in a position of being unsafe in the community.

As a result of AOCDS requests for information at this meeting, we have been told that many of our questions about this issue will be researched and answered by the beginning of next week.  At that time, another meeting will be scheduled with the County and the Department

AOCDS strongly opposes the layoff of 830.1 peace officers as a remedy for the financial problems in the Department and the County.  AOCDS recognizes that the first responsibility of government is the safety and protection of the public.  We will continue to express our opposition to these cuts and work diligently to protect the jobs and security of our members.

I have to wonder whether our deputies in the field and in the jails are getting the level of support they need to do their jobs safely and effectively. When you cut support staff at and not those needing the support the level of support required doesn’t simply go away, the work still must be done. Meals for inmates still need to be prepared, 911 calls still need to be answered, deputies still need to be dispatched, finger-prints still must be read, and evidence must be collected and analyzed.

Sheriff Hutchens’ plans for addressing the current and future shortfalls seem to be a bit haphazard and focused solely on support staff. This places our deputies and the remaining support staff at increased and unwarranted safety risk. For such a large department to function effectively and serve the residents of Orange County all members of the team are needed. Just as you cannot start an engine without spark plugs, you cannot do the full job of the department without the necessary support personnel.

Sheriff Hutchens needs to tell her managers to stop flying off in helicopters to chilli cook-off’s, permenantly retire her “retired extra help,” and start dealing reasonably, thoughtfully, and realistically with the budget crisis.

  4 comments for “OC Deputies Facing Only 7 “possible” Layoffs -so far

  1. Robert Lauten
    January 8, 2010 at 7:33 pm
  2. Ltpar
    January 8, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    It is unfortunate that any employee of the Sheriff’s Department is loosing their job, because all are good people and each does a good job. However, in the pecking order of any organization, law enforcement or private sector, there are “must have” employees and “nice to have” employees. In law enforcement, the sworn Officers/Deputies can provide both critical and support mission specific tasks, while civilian employees are limited to a support role only. When support employees go away, there is less efficient operation but the critical tasks are met. While you may disagree, this is the nature of the beast and it works that way in any law enforcement organization. In this case, where the sworn Deputy positions (Investigators)are eliminated, the employee is able to take a demotion and keep his/her job. This trickle down effect continues to move downward in the chain of command and the last in seniority, go into unfilled Deputy positions. Because of employees leaving for other jobs, some leaving law enforcement and retirements, there is a constant turn over creating unfilled spots. If additional Deputy positions have to be cut in the future, any vacant ones will most likely be the first to go.

    Not having seen the list of civilian positions being cut, I will not venture a comment on them at this time. Chances are, most are support jobs, added as part of the big increase in County Government during the past three or four years. It will be interesting to see if any of the positions are civilian Correction Officers, as they would likely be a high priority. For those who haven’t noticed it, the Sheriff has started transitioning sworn Deputies out of the Jail and into Patrol, replacing them with Correctional Officers. This in itself, is a major cost saving move. Times are tough in all professions and despite the tons of money wasted by the Federal Government, new jobs are not being created and good people continue to loose the jobs they have. I don’t think the Sheriffs Department has seen the bottom yet and more cuts will be coming as the County deficit continues.

  3. eg
    January 12, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    The Sheriff wants to be re-elected and cutting sworn looks bad. It’s not about safety or money. Sworn staff pension spikes and screw ups (Chamberlin?) have drained the county. All of this was given to them by a Sheriff who should be in prison. Civilian staff cost less, that’s why the Sheriff like the new job class. It’s typical Sheriffs Dept corruption and lies.

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