Highlighting the urgent need for the Sheriff's Department and the county to address the long-running, chronic shortage of deputy sheriffs, the department implemented the morale-sapping procedure of involuntary hiring "drafting" over the holidays. Proving once again, that Sheriff McDonnell was spot-on when he called the department's shortage of deputies a "crisis."
"Drafting" is a term the department uses to force a deputy to work overtime after their scheduled shift or on their day off to fill-in for a vacancy. The lead time given to a deputy being held over can be days in advance, or as little as hours or minutes before their shift ends. Drafting occurs far too often because many shifts are already staffed at or below minimums, leaving no margin for filling a vacant position due to illness, injury or operational need. The problem is compounded because the department lacks a predictable and transparent system for selecting deputies to be drafted.
The saying, "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part," is the way many deputies wish to respond to drafting and other attempts to cover the deputy shortage. However, they don't. Their duty to public service makes deputies suppress their response and instead silently bear the brunt of the department's planning/hiring failures that have led to short-staffing at a time when violent crime is rising.
ALADS believes the Sheriff's Department will only begin taking the staffing shortage seriously when it stops playing the ON-LOAN game and fully staff the recruitment and backgrounds units. To drive staffing, the department should incentivize the recruitment and backgrounds units which will attract experienced deputies who will want to transfer to those units and stay.
Both deputy fatigue and the increase in violent crime show, it is well past the time for the Sheriff's Department to make a serious effort to fully staff its deputy positions.