In our previous blogs, we have discussed the
of the Cadre of Administrative Reserve Personnel (CARP) on
, department morale, and retention of deputies. In this blog, we will discuss the only real solution to CARP: A FULLY FUNDED SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT that requires the department to budget all positions properly, and then present the real cost to the Board of Supervisors for approval.
All parties, including the county, understand that if proper funding is provided, CARP can be eliminated. That is why in 2013, the county allocated an
additional $36.6 million
to the department to hire more deputies and phase out CARP, resulting in the department notifying the county in July 2015 that CARP had been eliminated. However, only nine short months later, CARP was reinstated.
According to the department, on March 9, 2016, it discovered a "significant budgetary shortfall" that necessitated the immediate reinstatement of CARP. How is it that a sudden shortfall was discovered midway through a fiscal year when the vast majority of the cost of the department's functions are easily ascertainable?
In 2013, a 181-page
of the Sheriff's Department made some critical comments regarding the department's budgeting process. Specifically, the audit noted the department did not enact a 2003 audit recommendation that it work collaboratively with the county to accurately predict actual employee salary/benefits and supply/services costs. That failure, per the report, contributed to "misalignment in Sheriff's budget," with salaries/benefits under budgeted and supplies/services over budgeted.
There is no reason why the department cannot accurately budget for employee salary/benefits. The 2013 audit noted that patrol and detective positions were consistently under budgeted by the department saying, "although the actual expenses appear to be relatively predictable. This is consistent with the pattern of under-budgeting the salaries and employee benefits expenses for all budget units in total." The department is well aware of how many deputy positions are needed to be fully staffed. The associated cost, as the forensic report demonstrated, is easily ascertainable.
Until the department and the county work collaboratively to accurately predict actual employee salary/benefits and supply/service costs to fully fund the department, the department must change CARP to account for its impacts and eliminate its "one size fits all" implementation. We know that certain units are gaming the system by creating unneeded CARP positions, allowing them to give the appearance they are short. The gaming of the system, just like the budgeting games detailed above, must end.
Similarly, any positions that lack separate funding but are instead filled with patrol deputies should be eliminated. That practice leaves patrol positions shorthanded, and in turn, leads to more CARPing. Instead, if the department budget cannot account for a position with line item funding, then that position should not be filled. CARP is a lazy way for management to fill positions that either were not requested in an annual budget or were not funded in the budget. The watchword of the department going forward should be that only funded positions/assignments will be filled.
Next, CARP assignments need to be limited to those duties which minimize the spillover effects that occur because of activity generated during a CARP assignment, such as court appearances or extended shifts to write reports. As covered in the previous blogs, these tasks take additional time away from a detective upon return to their detective assignment. Instead, those assigned to CARP should be assigned duties like working the desk, a courthouse near the regular assignment, special projects, community relations, OPS deputy or other assignments unlikely to require additional time upon completion of the CARP assignment. Also, detective vacancies should remain unfilled, as it is better to be short in the Detective Bureau than taking additional time away from detective duties caused from CARPing.
To decrease CARPing units that can effectively be managed with less or without CARPing, should be rewarded. CARPing should be a last resort after cutting back on all the other positions and luxuries. This would include positions that are not funded separately but are filled with items borrowed from patrol, which leaves patrol shorthanded.
Has the department failed to ask the county for the funds to staff positions, or has the county refused to staff positions? Whatever the answer, the practice of underfunding the Sheriff's Department and then trying to cover shortfalls through shell games like CARP or "frozen positions" cannot continue, as it jeopardizes public safety, deprives Los Angeles County residents of services, and erodes department morale.
It is well past the time for the department to present an accurate budget that contains the actual cost of a fully funded department, and for the county to provide the necessary funds to fully staff it. As we have said many times before, the rise in crime is costly for the residents of Los Angeles County. However, as
studies have shown
, one proven solution to combat increase in crime is to fully staff the Sheriff's Department.