In the midst of a lengthy labor negotiation, the deputies union for the Sheriff’s Department held off on endorsing a candidate for the sheriff’s race in an early poll. The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, which represents approximately 7,900 non-supervisory deputies in the nation’s largest sheriff’s department, held off on endorsing Sheriff Jim McDonnell, or one of his challengers, based on the number of respondents the union had to the survey, which was a little less than 18 percent of membership, said Detective Ron Hernandez, a 34-year member of the Sheriff’s Department and president of ALADS. The union was hoping for at least about 33 percent of participation for an endorsement; however, for Hernandez, the results were indicative of department concerns. “In response to the question: ‘Who would you like to see ALADS endorse for Los Angeles County Sheriff?’ The votes were cast as follows,” according to the news release:
“I believe in talking to the members that there was a low participation in this poll due to the fact that deputy sheriffs know that we’re in contract negotiations — it’s not a good time to point out the failures of the sheriff,” Hernandez said. “It was enough to catch our attention as to the confidence in our current sheriff.”
For their part, sheriff’s officials said they’ve been working on a number of measures to increase their recruitment, marketing and hiring procedures, according to Capt. Darren Harris of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau, speaking on behalf of the Sheriff’s Department.
Both the county and the department are aware of the problem, Harris said, which is reflected in law enforcement agencies big and small throughout the country.
“The first thing we’ve done in response (to the problem) is, we’ve doubled our recruitment staff; second, the sheriff created a task force to assist us in our recruiting and hiring efforts,” Harris said, “recruiting and working to get people through the entire hiring process.”
The Task Force is made up of members of the Sheriff’s Department, the county CEO’s Office and deputies union representatives, he said.
The department is also gathering information for the potential hiring of a marketing firm to look at how the department can enhance best practices, which is in addition to a recent county motion that authorized consultants to assist LASD in its hiring and recruitment practices, Harris said.
While the poll represents a completely unofficial result, it indicates the inroads that sheriff candidate Bob Lindsey has made in gaining support of the rank-and-file in his bid to unseat Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
Lindsey touted a measure of vindication in the results in a statement to The Signal on Tuesday.
“While the result of the poll is not binding and does not represent an endorsement per se, ALADS represents a significant portion of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs as their official negotiator and union,” Lindsey said. “The ALADS poll represents a strong expression of confidence in my candidacy regardless of the sample size.”
A representative for McDonnell, who is seeking re-election, was not immediately available Tuesday.
Hernandez and Derek Hsieh, a nondeputy, former law enforcement officer who’s the executive director for ALADS, both noted the staffing crisis was a much bigger concern than a potential raise, due to the large amount of mandatory overtime deputies have had to work. Missed training opportunities for continuing professional development, such as when the department implements new technology or tools, are also a concern, Hernandez said.
The current shortage is at about 1,500 positions, Hernandez said, adding that’s not an estimate or wish list, but the number of funded positions that are currently unstaffed. The current contract expired in January, and deputies have been operating under the expired agreement since.