The Tehama County Sheriff’s Office recently made the drastic decision to suspend all daytime patrols due to a staffing crisis.
The change is set to take effect on November 20.
According to a statement from the sheriff’s office, leaders made the decision to “manage a catastrophic staffing shortage throughout the agency.”
The county said that they would rely on California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers to respond to daytime calls regarding life-threatening emergencies until staffing levels improve.
The agency cited difficulties recruiting new officers, high attrition rates and poor retention rates as factors behind the staffing crisis.
“Over the past several years, the Sheriff’s Office has had difficulties with recruitment and retention of employees, which has been directly linked to pay disparities,” the statement read. “A drastic rise in attrition, coupled with the inability to present enticing recruitment efforts, have resulted in an unprecedented staffing shortage.”
Tehama, a northern California county with a population of 66,000, is located between Redding and Chico and has a much higher crime rate than the state average.
Its most populated city, Red Bluff, for example, has a violent crime rate of 9.79 per 1,000 residents, which puts it in the upper 3% of most dangerous cities in the country.
Department leaders blamed county supervisors for not taking action to fix the issue.
“We have spoken to the Board for several years and warned them that staffing levels are too low,” the department wrote on Facebook. “Rather than take swift and decisive action, they have delayed and allowed too many good employees to leave … We will continue to do everything we can for the great citizens of Tehama County.”
According to Lieutenant Rob Bakken, 20 employees left the department over the past year. To make matters worse, applicants are at an all-time low, presumably due to the position’s relatively low pay.
For example, a current job posting for a deputy sheriff position in the county offers between $25 and $30 hourly, which amounts to a yearly salary of $52,000–$62,000 without overtime pay.
For the same position in nearby Solano County, the pay is roughly $82,000 a year.
Bakken said he expects response times to increase.
“Obviously, response times are going to be affected,” Bakken told KRCR. “And we’ve made the decisions to limit, as much as we can, the dangers to public safety. But not having deputies on the streets, obviously, is not beneficial to the public.”