A new agreement adding two deputy sheriffs to the five currently contracted for the Santa Ynez Chumash reservation took effect on Tuesday as part of an understanding between Sheriff Bill Brown, Supervisor Doreen Farr, and the Chumash concerning their expanded alcohol license. The tribe is seeking final approval from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) department to add the concert venue and gaming floor at the Chumash Casino Resort to the locations where it may serve liquor, according to a press release from the tribe. Alcohol had been restricted previously to the casino’s Willows Restaurant due to widespread community concerns with intoxicated drivers on narrow, winding State Route 154. It is being served now in the casino and concert hall under an interim operating permit with ABC.
Farr — who represents the county’s 3rd District where the reservation is found — and Brown had individually submitted protest letters to ABC over the expanded alcohol service, and Brown’s office and the tribe began talking about ways to mitigate the effects. The result, approved by the Board of Supervisors, is a contract to add two new deputies for patrol duty in the area — and throughout Santa Ynez Valley if emergencies arise — and also to act as community resource officers for crime prevention and alcohol beverage server education. The tribe is footing the approximately $550,000 initial cost for the deputies’ salaries, benefits, equipment, and vehicles, and about $400,000 annually thereafter. The Sheriff’s Office has 120 days to arrange for the two new deputies.
The two new deputies may not help a manpower shortage that has been a problem for the past year, according to the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association (DSA). After three out of the six patrol squads fell below staffing minimums on May 17, said union spokesperson Jeffrey Monical, the DSA pushed the sheriff to make overtime mandatory to maintain coverage and response times. Mandatory overtime was instated for patrol deputies on August 15, but the two new deputies won’t go far to solve the current 15-deputy vacancy, said Monical. Add to that the 19 temporary vacancies due to injuries, and “They’re short all around,” he said. Of the 15 vacant positions, 12 are for patrol deputies, Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kelly Hoover said, out of a total 92 deputies assigned to patrol duties currently. And not all 19 of the injured are patrol deputies, she added.
Brown and Farr have agreed to withdraw their letters to the ABC, their offices confirmed; the alcohol permitting agency meets in October regarding the tribe’s application.
Also agreed upon at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting was the continuation of ad hoc talks with the Santa Ynez Chumash over land use issues, including the federal versus county status for Camp 4.