If our jail hasn’t reached its “tipping point,” it’s close because of understaffing and inadequate training, according to a 2013 “Jail Staffing Assessment” report. This year the main jail’s number of deputies matched that of 2006 despite a nearly doubled inmate population. Sheriff Bill Brown ignored warnings for years that the jail was in crisis mode and didn’t comply with state mandates.
Sheriff Brown operates the jail at or below “minimum staffing level,” which is inherently insufficient by definition. A “minimum staffing level” is adequate to perform only the most basic jail functions, not a safe and secure jail.
AB 109 caused an influx of state prisoners who are sicker, more drug addicted, more mentally ill, and more violent. More staff is needed per inmate to accommodate more medical appointments and transportation as well as heightened risk. When sparse deputies keep getting pulled from one post to cover two or three other posts and security posts are left vacant, they ask, “Does someone have to be killed or seriously injured before something is done to provide more coverage?”
Sheriff Brown considered changing deputies’ two-week workweek from 80 hours to 84 hours, making the extra four hours payable at overtime rates only if the deputy hadn’t called in sick thinking it would provide an incentive not to call in sick. Thousands of hours of overtime are paid every month. If the sheriff doesn’t trust the deputies with sick days, it’s understandable why the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association is not endorsing the incumbent sheriff: no trust.
We’ve seen the cost of Sheriff Brown’s mismanagement in millions of dollars of overtime and in lost lives in Isla Vista. Don’t wait for another “tipping point” to force another tragedy. Please vote for Sgt. Sandra Brown on Tuesday to implement the improvements we desperately need.