A sheriff’s office in northern California has warned its staffing issues have reached a “catastrophic” level and it will have insufficient deputies to maintain daytime patrols.
“Beginning November 20, 2022, the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office will suspend day-time patrol services to its designated areas of responsibility within Tehama County,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a press release.
“This added reduction of services is necessary to manage a catastrophic staffing shortage throughout the agency.”
“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 office explained. “A drastic rise in attrition, coupled with the inability to present enticing recruitment have resulted in an unprecedented staffing shortage.”
In a Facebook post, the sheriff’s department outlined it had already shut down several units in its jail due to the staffing crisis, in addition to temporarily shutting down its dispatch center.
The sheriff’s office blamed the county board for refusing to take action on the staffing issue despite being warned levels were drastically insufficient.
“We have spoken [to] the Board for several years and warned them that staffing levels are too low. Rather than take swift and decisive action, they have delayed and allowed too many good employees to leave,” the post reads.
The Tehama county sheriff notes their office “will maintain patrol services during the night-time hours.”
Tehama County could use all the help it can get in terms of policing, according to stats from SFGATE.com:
The Northern Californian county has a population of around 66,000 and covers almost 3,000 square miles between Redding and Chico. The county has a significantly higher crime rate than the state and national averages. Its most populous city, Red Bluff, has a violent crime rate of nearly 9.79 per 1,000 residents, making it less safe that 97% of cities in the country, according to Neighborhood Scout.
Speaking to KRCR, Lt. Rob Bakken said the issue could likely put public safety at risk.
“Obviously, response times are going to be affected,” the lieutenant 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.”
Is the predicament in Tehoma County a one-off, or a sign of what’s to come for other law enforcement agencies across the country?