LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is looking for more than a few good men and women.
The nation’s largest sheriff’s department will need about 1,300 additional sworn personnel by July 1, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
To reach that number, Sheriff Jim McDonnell is expanding his recruiting department and launching a hiring push, but it won’t be an easy goal to achieve.
For every 100 applicants, only two or three become deputies, sheriff’s officials said. Half fail the background check.
So far, they are covering the shortage with overtime, sheriff’s officials said.
“We would rather work short than hire the wrong people,” Todd Rogers, assistant sheriff in charge of personnel and recruiting, told the Times. “We are not going to compromise our standards just to meet a hiring goal.”
That can’t go on indefinitely, said Jeffrey Steck, the president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.
“It puts the deputies in danger, and I think it puts our population in danger, our citizens in danger,” Steck said. “There is going to be some tragedy where we’re going to look back at that guy who was on duty for 15 or 16 hours and say that was a mistake, say, ‘I told you.’ “
McDonnell, who replaced retired Sheriff Lee Baca last December, inherited a department saddled with federal investigations of brutality, corruption and racial harassment.
Many of the added deputy positions are needed in county jails after the department settled a lawsuit by promising better supervision and training there to avoid further accusations of inmate beatings and harassment. Sheriff’s officials also signed an agreement with the federal government in April promising deputies in the Antelope Valley would no longer single out blacks and Latinos for harassment.
The sheriff’s department, with 9,000 sworn deputies and another 9,000 non-sworn employees, is the largest in the nation.
Money is available for many of the needed positions, but the greater task will be finding qualified people, officials said. In addition to those who fail the initial background check, large numbers of applicants also flunk the written test or the rigorous physical fitness test.
Of those accepted into the sheriff’s training academy, only about 20 percent graduate.