FRENCH CAMP -- Temporary cuts are coming to the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office.
“We’re on a skeleton crew,” said San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow. “ If we drop below this then we will not be able to handle the calls as they come in. We will probably have to go to priority dispatch and I’m not going to let that happen.”
Sheriff Withrow said drastic times call for drastic measures as contract negotiations with county supervisors stall.
“We're making some drastic changes here at the sheriff’s office to make sure that we have enough bodies on the street so that our citizens and our officers are safe,” he told FOX40.
The sheriff said right now there are only 66 deputies on patrol. However, they should have 129 deputies.
Many work overtime to cover 24/7 shifts.
Withrow said 10 deputies, who also make up 30% of his SWAT team, left the department in the last six months to go to neighboring agencies like the Manteca Police Department, which pays up to $2,500 more a month.
He said he has a list of 26 more deputies who are also considering leaving.
“They're eventually going to have to put their families first and if I lose 26 more guys, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Withrow said.
Withrow is pulling deputies from several positions, including the courthouse and the Stockton Airport. They are also suspending the Community Car Program to reassign 19 more deputies to patrol.
“We’re going to fight hard to try to keep the Community Car. It’s changed our life in Morada,” said Donna Augustin, the president of the Morada Area Association and Neighborhood Watch program.
Augustin said the Community Car Program will be missed.
“Before we were having a lot of crime in our community. Weekly, we’d have home burglaries, cars stolen, cars broken into,” she said. “Before homeless were even really a big issue, we had a lot of drug addicts, meth addicts wandering our neighborhood at night. And so, it was pretty bad.”
Withrow is calling on county supervisors to give his deputies the raise he says they deserve so he can recruit new deputies and keep the ones he has.
“I know there’s only so much money in the coffers but our guys did the right thing and gave up a raise four and a half years ago to help this county,” he said. “And now the county turned its back on it and this affects the safety of our community.”
San Joaquin County Administrator Monica Nino issued the following statement regarding the contract negotiations with the Deputy Sheriff Association:
Current contract negotiations have not led to a unanimous agreement, and in spite of 25 bargaining sessions over the past four and a half years, the County and the DSA are now in mediation.
San Joaquin County remains hopeful to reach an agreement with the DSA on a replacement agreement. We are taking thorough steps to explore reasonable solutions that are fair to our valued DSA peace officers while staying mindful of our overall budget and taxpayer dollars.