Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) has introduced legislation that will assist sheriffs with streamlining the hiring process in their local departments.
“I worked closely with Sheriff [Dave] Robinson to pass legislation in 2015 that helps local law enforcement hire and retain qualified peace officers,” Salas said. “It has proven to be successful and AB 1888 will continue to keep our communities safe.”
The bill extends the amount of time a peace officer has between finishing basic training and being hired as a patrol deputy from three years to five years, if in that time period they are employed as a peace-officer in a non-patrol position in the same department.
Under current law, this flexibility already exists due to Assembly Bill 1168, which was authored by Salas in 2015. However, the statute is set to expire in 2019. Under the new bill, AB 1888, the law would become permanent.
According to Kings County Sheriff David Robinson, the law has worked well in Kings County, which is why there is interest in making it permanent.
“This law gave us an additional hiring pool that was difficult to hire from prior to the passage of this bill,” said Robinson. “The additional two years on the certificate expiration date has been a great help for us locally.”
Robinson said in Kings County, about 100 to 120 cadets graduate from the local law enforcement academy every year; but the department only hires about 20 deputy patrol positions a year, so there ends up being a lot of cadets that don’t get hired for patrol positions.
What the department can and does do, however, is hire some graduates to work in the jail with the hope that someday they will apply for and get a patrol job, Robinson said.
The problem is that the academy certificates are only good for three years, Robinson said. He said graduates only had two options: find a patrol job right away or work in the jail and get a one-time renewal certificate, which comes with more training.
The hiring process for a patrol job is lengthy. Robinson said it takes about a year for the application and background process, plus another year to get up to speed on everything at the department; so academy graduates have already lost two years on a certificate that is only good for three years.
Robinson said the bill allows the deputies working in the jail an extra two years to gain some experience working in the jail, and they don’t have to feel pressured to find a patrol job right away.
He said the bill helps the department retain employees as well, since the extension is only allowed if the person stays with the agency they were initially hired with.
“It offers that protection,” Robinson said. “It’s like saying ‘we’re committed to you if you’re committed to us.'"
The bill is additionally supported by the California State Sheriffs’ Association, which represents sheriffs from across the state.
“The continuation of this successful program will allow counties to attract and retain qualified deputies, which benefits every community, while ensuring appropriate and rigorous training requirements remain in place,” said Sheriff Bill Brown, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association.
During critical emergency response periods, sheriffs provide support and expertise as first responders. This legislation will help to shore up the shortage of deputies that currently exists, providing important assistance to emergency and disaster areas.
Robinson said the sheriff’s office is the largest law enforcement agency in Kings County, with around 85 sworn-in patrol deputies and 110 detention deputies in the jail. He said before the law, the sheriff’s office had a lot of job openings, and now they are about 99 percent fully-staffed in both the jail and on patrol.
“This has helped retain local people and gives them the opportunity to stay and work in their community,” Robinson said, adding most deputies live in Kings or Tulare counties.
Robinson said he’s grateful to Salas for helping enact the law and said he hopes it will continue.