California sheriff cancels daytime patrols amid ‘catastrophic’ staff shortage

A Northern California sheriff’s department will suspend all day patrols beginning Nov. 20 due to a “catastrophic staff shortage,” according to department officials.

The small sheriff’s office, headquartered in Red Bluff, Tehama County, has struggled to hire and retain employees, Sheriff Dave Hencratt said in a Nov. 7 statement.

“A drastic increase in turnover coupled with an inability to present enticing recruiting efforts has resulted in unprecedented staffing shortages,” Hencratt said.

In the last year, the department has lost more than 20 employees and the number of new applicants is low, Lt. Rob Bakken of the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office told KRCR. The sheriff’s office has around 126 employees, according to its website.

The department will continue to take calls during the night hours while the California Highway Patrol will respond to life-threatening emergencies in the county during the day, but details about the collaboration are not finalized, Hencratt said.

“Deputies assigned to night patrol will triage and answer the open non-emergency calls for the service that come in throughout the day,” he said.

In addition to the strip cut, several housing units within the county jail were closed and the shipping center was also temporarily closed.

Labor negotiations with the county

The department has spoken with the county board of directors for several years and warned them about understaffing, according to the sheriff’s social media announcement.

“Instead of acting quickly and decisively, they delayed and allowed too many good employees,” the department wrote.

County Administrator Gabriel Hydrick told the Epoch Times the county was unaware of the sheriff’s decision before the press release was issued.

Labor negotiations are ongoing between the county and two groups representing department employees, Hydrick said.

The day after the sheriff’s announcement, the board approved a motion that would authorize a nearly 23 percent pay rise for deputy sheriffs and other pay increases for members of the deputy sheriff’s administration.

The increases would also be implemented within a year, according to Hydrick.

“This is outrageous,” Hydrick said. “You won’t find that anywhere else.”

One of the two groups has agreed to the agreement.

Despite the board’s approval of new pay increases, the department “will proceed with the original plan,” Lt. Derek Sherrill to The Epoch Times.

The department will continue recruiting and will work to restore patrol services, according to the department.

Patrol Cut Can Be ‘Disastrous’ For Residents: Retired Sergeant

The rural county of 64,000 people has struggled with deputy shortages and inadequate daytime patrol for years as deputies are called to court or on sick leave, county officials said, according to the Census Bureau.

“A shortage of day patrols is not new, especially in today’s environment where it is very difficult to be a deputy or correctional officer,” the county wrote in a statement. “What is new is the willingness to make this structural weakness known to criminals shortly before the holiday season and to open the season to our law-abiding residents and visitors.”

National Police Association spokeswoman Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith told Fox News the cut in daytime duty was “disastrous for citizens” as Red Bluff’s violent crime rate is 97 percent higher than the rest of the county.

Tehama County sheriff’s deputies are paid $20,000 to $40,000 less than other departments in the area, and the jail is 60 percent staffed, Smith said. In addition, California law enforcement officials feel betrayed and exhausted.

“They are fed up with being called racists. They’re tired of being lied to,” she said. “Police officers just want to do their job, and that job is to protect their communities, but they have to make a living to do that.”

Jill McLaughlin