Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department details solutions to overtime costs and recruiting issues

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department said it’s trending to top $17 million in overtime for the current year, which will be the highest on record.

A study is underway to identify the factors behind overtime.

One of the main factors has been the lack of personnel in the department.

Retention and recruiting issues have been difficult not just in this department, but nationally.

Two of the reasons are recruiting incentives from other agencies and the impact of public sentiment towards a career in law enforcement, which has led to a drop in the number of applicants.

In a report to the Board of Supervisors, the county increased its reach with a streamlined hiring process and using professional marketing services. There were also job fairs for first responders and a presence at community events.

Sheriff Bill Brown says through 2021 there was a downward trend in overtime. He says pandemic-related duties and early retirement issues, some earlier than expected, have been factors in increasing overtime to ease job shortages. “Due to a variety of factors, we have an unusually high number of vacancies,” Brown said.

The department recommends hiring Sheriff Service Tech positions which can provide some relief to sworn positions, in some positions.
“The sheriff’s office is looking for good men and women to fill our ranks,” Brown told the board of supervisors and broadcast television coverage.
He said the ministry is committed to the core values ​​of service, integrity, benevolence, courage and fairness.

He said it is a noble career for those who are interested.

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said the issue was “a priority” for the county.

He spoke about new recruiting strategies, especially with local community colleges, and specifically named Alan Hancock, Cuesta and Santa Barbara City College.

Supervisor Gregg Hart said the presentation “didn’t sound compelling” or lack a sense of urgency. “I don’t see a plan to move forward.”

To that, Brown said “we’re actually doing a better job” than other agencies in the county when it comes to vacancies. “We’re dealing with more departures and more retirements than we’ve ever had.” He said there is “a national narrative, a false narrative in the wake of the George Floyd tragedy to create a false idea” that law enforcement is brutal and racist. He also said the message was released recklessly.

Supervisor Bob Nelson said “that’s not my view” and said it’s not the board’s view either.
He said he supported maximizing hiring incentives.

Brown also said that “even if we were at full strength,” the department would still not have enough personnel to do the work required on patrol, in guard divisions and other departments.

He said, “we are looking for the creme de la creme.” He says there are many stages in the recruitment including oral interview, physical agility, mental assessment and other tests where some of the applicants do not get an acceptable result.

Brown said the current recruit needs to be in “guardian mode” for the job in Santa Barbara County.

Supervisor Das Williams said he did not want to cannibalize patrol forces to ensure the guard service was staffed.

For more information, see the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department Budget Report.

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