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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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January 22, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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January 22, 2014
 

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Feather River Bulletin Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 5A Low pay hurts recruiting efforts. from page 1A Because the jail is operating under a consent decree, it enforcement agencies must meet minimum staffing throughout the state: But it requirements. is especially magnified in Hiring qualified rural areas like Plumas corrections officers can be as County. difficult as hiring deputies. Because of rigid standards, fewer than 10 percent of the A matter of pay people who set out to be an Johns said Plumas County officer ever make it to the . . deputies and corrections force, officers are among the And for the select few who lowest-paid in the state. eventually succeed, the Deputies start at $19.01 per process is long and grueling, hour. After deductions for Johns said the background taxes, medical insurance, checks, testing and training retirement and association take months. After a deputy dues, a starting deputy's candidate is identified, the take,home pay is roughly odds of that person becoming $1,000 every two weeks. a deputy are long. Jailers start at $14.95 per "Currently the fail rate of hour. After deductions, applicants for the written Johns said a beginning test is about 45 percent," c'b~2"~t+~y-~ 6~'ce~"'s Johns said. "And the fail rate take-home pay for two weeks for the oral test is well over is about $715. "The pay is becoming a 50 percent." Johns said that 75 percent huge factor," Johns said. of the applicants who pass "We've had applicants at the those tests fail the detailed jail who were passing their background check, background checks and then The select few who have they called us and said 'I'm clean enough records then not going to come work for have to make it through the you because I make more 26-week Peace Officer money at the mill, or I can go Standards and Training work at the prison facility in academy. Susanville.'" Half the people who enter Jail commander Chad the POST academy don't Hermann said the jail has make it. The survivors must gone through three hiring then complete a 16- to cycles during his year and a 20-week field training half in charge. program to become a level 1 "We have never been fully peace officer, capable of staffed," Hermann said, patrolling independently. "And it is not from lack of The sheriff has one trying on our part." candidate entering the Hermann said he travels to academy this month. If he the academies to personally graduates and completes the recruit cadets. field training, he will be on "This last go,round we duty sometime this fall. have been successful in The sheriff said he has getting a couple of viable identified two other candidates," he said. candidates currently "Whether they will make it working at the jail. Since through the entire process... those officers have already You are looking at a very, passed their tests, they are very low success rate." scheduled to enter the Hermann said he has eight academy in June. candidates for six current They will be sponsored by vacancies at the jail. the Plumas County Sheriffs Johns said the relatively Office. That means the low wages discourage sheriff is paying for their officers from other agencies training. Some people choose who might otherwise to enter the academy as consider transferring to unsponsored cadets. They Plumas County. If officers pay their own training costs were to make a "lateral" and then look for a job after move to Plumas, they would they graduate, be ready to work in a matter The two Plumas cadets of weeks instead of a year. could be full-fledged deputies "It has been a couple years on patrol by early 2015. since we've had an But there's another unsponsored cadet even potential obstacle, apply he]:e," Johns said. Before the two jailers can "They can go to most enter the academy, counties south of us and the replacement officers must be wages and benefits are hired for their current jobs. better. "This county is beautiful, potential officer from It's the one thing we have working in Plumas County. going for us. But it is still "Some agencies will hire an difficult.to recruit." officer as long as they haven't In fact, Johns said it is a done a specific drug in the challenge to keep the past year," Johns said. "We deputies the department has. are still very tough on the Even though deputies background. It makes for a enter the academy sponsored better officer in the long run." by Plumas County, they are The sheriff said he is constantly being recruited adamant about maintaining by other agencies while they high standards in his are in the training program, department. After finishing their field "We. Will. Not. Lower. training in Plumas County Standards," Hagwood said, the new deputies become pausing to emphasize each even more coveted by other word. "If you lower counties. That's because standards, you are inviting Plumas deputies, who often disastrous problems down work solo, have to have a the road. wide-ranging Skill set. In "Los Angeles Police larger counties deputies are Department lowered usually more specialized, standards and they got the learn how to do everything1" scandal," Hagwood said, Johns said. "They learn how "which, by analysis, was to do their own directly attributable to f'mgerprinting, they learn lowering standards, simply coroner's cases. We don't to put bodies in uniform and have a traffic division; all of on patrol. We will not lower our deputies are trained in standards.., period." traffic." Johns said the sheriffs The reserve deputies office has had deputies leave Johns said the sheriff is for better-paying jobs with fortunate to have some other agencies. "After strong reserve officers to working in Vacaville for a help fill scheduling gaps. year and a half, they make Most of the reserve Officers more (with overtime) than are retired deputies who are the sheriffmakes here," allowed to work a limited Johns said. number of hours per year- usually around 900 hours. Transferring to Plumas There are three levels of Johns said deputies from reserve officers. other counties sometimes A level 3 officer is similar apply to work in Plumas to a clerk and works mostly County. But he said they in the office. usually come with baggage. A level 2 officer has to "You can see from their work with a level I deputy on application that they have the street. Level 2 officers tried to be hired by other might be seen working at a agencies and they aren't local sporting event. being hired," Johns said. A level i officer has full "Some have applied at 15 - 20 peace officer authority. other agencies. You The Plumas County sheriff immediately think.., has eight level I reserve 'There's something going on deputies. Seven of the level 1 here.'" reserves are retired deputies. Johns said some of those These deputies can fill any "lateral" officers who want shift that is needed. Many of to transfer to Plumas have them do boat-patrol shifts. actually been in trouble at But they also cover patrols their current job. He said a on the street. background check usually "The reserves we've had uncovers a problem. ..... working for our agency have While Some agencies are saved our bacon more than lowering their background once," Johns said. "We have standards, Plumas is not. some great reserves that Johns said things like a have done a lot of work for history of drug use, or even us. They use up their hours bankruptcy, prevent a pretty fast." Shear Pleasure 1690 E. Main St., Quincy 283-3302 I A Catlm ngentta .