San Francisco Sheriff’s Deputy Barry Bloom has emerged as the city’s top overtime earner, accruing an astonishing $2.2 million in overtime pay over the past seven years, according to city records reviewed by The San Francisco Chronicle.
Bloom’s work schedule has been driven by chronic understaffing within the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office, leading to a grueling average of 95 hours per week on the job since 2016. This demanding workload has left him with only around 10 hours a day for essential tasks like sleeping and eating.
Bloom, who serves as a public safety monitor at San Francisco City Hall, has taken advantage of the staffing shortage within the agency by making the most of his overtime hours. In recent fiscal years, he surpassed the 100-hour workweek mark, while in 2022, his annual pay of $123,790 ballooned to $530,935 with overtime included.
Bloom declined to be interviewed for the Chronicle story, but his commitment to his role has been recognized through numerous awards, and he was featured in a recruiting video as well.
San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto acknowledged that Bloom’s staggering overtime hours are well-known within the department and praised his efforts, citing his dedication to the Civic Center neighborhood, which includes City Hall, and his 28 opioid overdose “Narcan saves” made over a four-month stretch.
Bloom “is definitely a person who’s a workhorse,” the sheriff said. “He doesn’t just sign up for overtime, but he actually gets the work done.”
According to the Sheriff’s Office, working overtime has become a temporary but necessary solution to fill gaps in personnel caused by understaffing. Of the top 20 overtime earners within the city over the past eight years, 17 are from the sheriff’s office. The remaining three are Fire Department employees.
According to an audit conducted in 2019 by the San Francisco Controller’s Office, full-time employees were spending approximately 20% of their total work hours on overtime. The audit attributed this need for overtime to policy changes that increased deputy workloads without a corresponding increase in staffing budgets. These policies included bail reform measures and expanded security services at local hospitals.
Ken Lomba, president of the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, spoke of the challenge of retaining deputies due to the city’s failure to hire aggressively and implement effective retention incentives.
“We have periods where deputy sheriffs get tired of all the forced overtime, and they look for jobs elsewhere because it’s just too much,” Lomba said.
The agency acknowledged a significant shortage of 176 sworn full-time positions, 41 non-sworn positions and 24 cadets. According to a sheriff’s spokesperson, the agency is determined to reverse this course.
“The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office is aggressively hiring to fill empty positions to fill those mandatory minimums to prevent these high levels of overtime we have been experiencing since the onset of COVID-19,” the spokesperson stated.
Miyamoto also expressed concerns about officer exhaustion, but stated that many veteran deputies are accustomed to long hours. However, he acknowledged that fatigue might be a concern for newer recruits. To alleviate this issue, the department has lowered the required overtime shifts from three to two per week, introduced a mandatory wellness training program and established mini-living quarters for sleeping and showering.
“One thing we don’t want to have is people sleeping on duty, of course. So we’re also focused on making sure that doesn’t happen as well,” Miyamoto said.
Staffing shortages continue to be an issue facing departments across the country, with the Police Executive Research Forum reporting a 47% increase in resignations last year compared to pre-pandemic levels, as well as a 4.8% decline in sworn staff members between January 2020 and the same time this year.