FY 2017-18 Proposed Budget Leaves Sheriff's Department Understaffed & Underfunded

by ALADS Board of Directors
It is often said that the level of commitment to an idea or project can be measured by one's monetary commitment to it; hence the phrase "put your money where your mouth is." While the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has occupied a great deal of time, focus, and calls for changes by the Board of Supervisors, the level of commitment has to be questioned in light of funds the department is slated to receive in the upcoming 2017-2018 fiscal year. 
Los Angeles County unveiled a proposed $30-billion budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018.The proposed budget, if adopted, would be a huge step back for public safety in the county. The combination of rising crime and a short-staffed Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) should be troubling for every resident of the county. 
It will take a multiyear commitment of resources to resolve the chronic understaffing of the department. As of June 2016, there were 7,456 deputy sheriffs. However, 779 deputies have or will reach 30 years of service by the end of 2017; another 1,643 will reach 30 years of service by 2021. In short, the department faces the near-term loss of nearly 30% of the current deputies due to retirement. In all, the department is understaffed by more than 1,000 authorized deputy positions and ALADS (we) estimate the shortage to be much greater when measured against operational demands.
The Sheriff had requested $2.3 billion in his budget, and the county's response was a budget that is a staggering 26.5% less.  To everyone's surprise, the proposed budget adds only 18 new deputy sheriff positions, which is clearly not a meaningful increase in budgeted positions for our growing county. This inadequate budget comes as crime has risen for the second year in a row, with violent crime rates up 9% as of December 2016, violent crime rates in the county and property crime rates increasing 6%. As Los Angeles and Paris enter the final competitive stretch for the 2020 Olympics - this sends the wrong message about our priorities.
Having a fully funded, fully staffed Sheriff's Department is a proven effective crime prevention strategy and a wise investment, not a burdensome cost. Studies by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) that found that every additional peace officer hired has the effect of cutting 1.3 violent crimes and 4.2 property crimes each year. There is also a financial benefit to the community as each additional deputy is estimated to reduce the total cost of crime for residents by more than $300,000. When conducting a cost-benefit analysis, it is clear that the decreased cost of crime far exceeds the cost of hiring a deputy sheriff; which makes hiring additional deputies a cost-effective investment to fighting crime. 
Academic research on the cost of crime and the effectiveness of law enforcement in preventing crime, conducted by the Rand Corporation concluded that the return on investment for hiring additional law enforcement was likely to be appreciably above the cost of hiring. Bottom line: hiring deputies make business sense.
The currently proposed budget does more than shortchange the Sheriff's Department, it shortchanges the residents of Los Angeles County where the quiet majority support law enforcement, count on our services 24/7, and expect their tax dollars to provide full service. The first step towards providing residents services they have paid for and deserve is to readjust the budget and provide funds to hire more deputy sheriffs.
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) is the collective bargaining agent representing more than 7,900 deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators working in Los Angeles County. 

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