Dear Tehama County Residents,
An unsigned press release was recently issued by the Tehama County Sheriff’s office stating they would be suspending daytime patrol. On their FB page, the TC Deputy Sheriff’s Association suggests this is due to lack of response by the Board of Supervisors (BOS) to salary issues.
We need to understand the nuances of the situation and we need to get involved to help our Board – and other county officials (including the Sheriff) know where we stand as the citizens they represent.
While our deputies and the rest of our county staff are indeed paid below what they should be, I cannot sit idly by while partial truths are shared nationally with media outlets and on social media, giving a false picture of our county and the state of the Sheriff’s office. The real problems within the Sheriff’s office run much deeper than just wages.
Staffing issues have more to do with bad management and poor treatment of employees by senior leadership than anything else. Money becomes the problem when employees are unhappy.
Please take some time to look into the issues outlined below and consider whether there might be other things going on or other ways to solve some the problems.
Transparent California is a website that makes government employee salaries available publicly. You can filter by Tehama County and year – then search by “sheriff” to see the salaries. You can also review the Tehama County Master Salary Schedule.
Below is a summary of the Tehama County SO salaries. Please note that if a certain individuals salary seems to be significantly lower, it means they were not paid for the entire year (they started or left, they were on leave, etc) but you can get a good idea of the salaries.
While I do agree that all of our county employees should have an increase in pay, I also understand that we do not live in a rich county. That MUST be taken into consideration when we address salary issues. We are not going to compete with Shasta County.
The median household income for the US is $65,712.
The median household income for Tehama County is $44,514.
One article noted that deputies in Tehama County make $52-62k per year, compared to Solano County where deputies make $82k. What it doesn’t mention is that Solano County’s median household income is $84k. Compare cost of housing and you can begin to understand one of the reasons we choose to live in a rural community. We live here by choice – knowing that our salaries will not be in line with those who live in metropolitan areas.
Members of the BOS issued a rebuttal letter expressing their disappointment in the handling of this new reduction of services. In that letter, the board noted that deputy sheriffs have received pay increases totaling 41.8% over the last five years, including a 22.8% increase approved by the board on Nov. 8 (which is not reflected in the Transparent California database yet). There is no mention of this on the Deputy Sheriff’s Association facebook page.
Another issue we need to consider is whether the sheriff has had any control over the salary issue. We continue to hear that it’s all on the county administration. I disagree. The sheriff & his leadership team have control over their budget.
The Sheriff’s budget received a $2.2m increase this year. Did that get applied to salaries ? If not – why not?
Every year, our sheriff returns monies back to the county. Monies that could be transitioned into salary increases if the sheriff wanted to do so.
Instead of working together to find solutions, the Sheriff’s office chose to stir up anger by reducing dispatch or patrol hours and creating gaps in OUR safety.
Many employees from the sheriff’s office (both past & present), have stated that morale is and has been very bad for the last 12 years. Some employees (who are recently aligned with the senior leadership and are being treated like royalty) claim there is no issue with staff morale – these same employees were concerned about the possibility that the next sheriff would be the current Captain. They joined his campaign and suddenly, they think he’s the greatest thing for the agency. Other employees who are not aligned so closely, are treated poorly. This type of management is not conducive to maintaining a high functioning team.
When the leadership was told earlier this year that several of their staff members were unhappy and considering leaving, rather than take that information and try to make changes, they demanded the names of the employees. Out of concern that those employees would have been harassed and belittled, their names were not shared. And the issues have not been addressed.
Tehama is one of the poorest counties in the state. In order to maintain the small-town feel of our community, our Board of Supervisors has chosen to limit growth and income for our county – so our elected and appointed representatives need to be smart with how they manage both their budget and their staff.
We as citizens need to recognize the real problems and get involved to help solve them. If we want pay increases, we need to find ways to grow the county budget. Does that mean we open the county to larger companies? Does it mean we pay higher taxes? What are the citizens of this county willing to endure in order to increase wages? What about the other county employees who make even less than the sheriff’s staff?
If the problem is truly the BOS and County Administration – we have the ability to change that. And we have been doing so. 4 of the 5 supervisors have been overturned in the last 2 years (2 will start Jan 1). If we want change, now is the time to talk to them about what is important. But we have numerous other elected officials, including the Sheriff, who also need to take ownership and responsibility for the way their staff and finances are managed.
Cutting critical services and sharing that information publicly is nothing short of a manipulation tactic designed to bully the county into making decisions which may not actually be in the best interest of us, the tax-payers. The Sheriff’s leadership team needs to find ways to more effectively manage their staff & budget while working better with the county to solve problems.
Before you accept salary as the sole cause of the current decreased service, do your homework contact your Supervisor and ask for more information.
Given that news outlets across the country have been writing this story, there is concern that criminals will target our county residents in coming weeks and months.
CHP along with the Red Bluff and Corning Police Departments will continue normal operations.
While the SO will not be patrolling during the day, they do have staff available to respond to emergencies. And if there is a major crime, other agencies will respond as well.
Our county has several strong Neighborhood Watch Groups. Given the size of Tehama County, most of our rural communities do not have regular patrol. Our Neighborhood Watch Groups are and have been important for that reason.
If you are part of one of these groups, I’m sure you’re already discussing citizen patrol for your own neighborhoods during the daytime hours.
If you’re not part of a Neighborhood Watch, contact the Sheriff’s office to find out if there is one in your area. If there’s not, consider starting one. The Sheriff’s office will help you with that.