News

Sheriff's Office is understaffed, but Santa Clara County says the data is old

County spent $225,000 on report it now rejects and wants to spend more money in an update

Investigators from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office investigate after two county inmates fled the Palo Alto Courthouse on November 5, 2017. A new report highlights staffing shortages within the Sheriff's Office. Photo by Veronica Weber.

A new report suggests the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office needs more deputies, but county officials say the findings are outdated and unhelpful.

Santa Clara County recently released a draft that analyzes staffing levels at the sheriff's office and county jails. The 404-page report, which cost $225,000, was authorized in 2019 and finished late this summer. However, now the county plans to issue a request for proposals to generate a new report.

The report, conducted by CGL Companies, found that the sheriff's office was understaffed by 60 workers and the jail system was short by 54 employees. The analysis also noted that the understaffing issue was not equally distributed among facilities.

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith. Embarcadero Media file photo.

Sheriff Laurie Smith, who is facing scrutiny -- and demands for resignation -- over her management of the jail system, has called for the release of the study. She's up for re-election in June 2022.

"We are really pleased there was an objective look at our staffing levels by an expert organization," Smith told San Jose Spotlight through a spokesperson. "This report demonstrates the sheriff's office is clearly understaffed. With additional personnel, we look forward to providing enhanced levels of service."

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Mountain View Online for as little as $5/month.

Join

Smith didn't comment on the county's decision to request an updated report.

COVID-19 changes the county jails

The county's main jail, which incarcerates people who have been sentenced or are waiting to stand trial, had 23 deputies over the needed staffing level. The Elmwood Complex, in contrast, needs at least 76 more deputies to adequately maintain operation. Elmwood consistently lacked 20 percent of required staff per shift, resulting in extensive use of leave and overtime, the analysis found.

County officials, however, claim data on jail staff collected in early summer 2019 is no longer relevant in the post-COVID world, and plan to redo the study.

"(We were) in a much different environment in the jail," County Executive Jeff Smith told San Jose Spotlight. "We're recommending that we go out again to get another consultant to do a new study based on new data."

Santa Clara County jails saw a significant drop in incarcerated people in the last 18 months -- from 3,239 to 2,342 people, according to the county. County officials anticipate the jail population will remain low because of a recent initiative that allows early release for those with good behavior credits. Plus, its diversion program releases individuals with mental health and substance use disorders into community services and treatment facilities.

This story, from Bay City News Service, was originally published on San Jose Spotlight.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Stay informed on important law enforcement news. Sign up for our FREE daily Express newsletter.

Sheriff's Office is understaffed, but Santa Clara County says the data is old

County spent $225,000 on report it now rejects and wants to spend more money in an update

by /

Uploaded: Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 12:52 pm

A new report suggests the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office needs more deputies, but county officials say the findings are outdated and unhelpful.

Santa Clara County recently released a draft that analyzes staffing levels at the sheriff's office and county jails. The 404-page report, which cost $225,000, was authorized in 2019 and finished late this summer. However, now the county plans to issue a request for proposals to generate a new report.

The report, conducted by CGL Companies, found that the sheriff's office was understaffed by 60 workers and the jail system was short by 54 employees. The analysis also noted that the understaffing issue was not equally distributed among facilities.

Sheriff Laurie Smith, who is facing scrutiny -- and demands for resignation -- over her management of the jail system, has called for the release of the study. She's up for re-election in June 2022.

"We are really pleased there was an objective look at our staffing levels by an expert organization," Smith told San Jose Spotlight through a spokesperson. "This report demonstrates the sheriff's office is clearly understaffed. With additional personnel, we look forward to providing enhanced levels of service."

Smith didn't comment on the county's decision to request an updated report.

COVID-19 changes the county jails

The county's main jail, which incarcerates people who have been sentenced or are waiting to stand trial, had 23 deputies over the needed staffing level. The Elmwood Complex, in contrast, needs at least 76 more deputies to adequately maintain operation. Elmwood consistently lacked 20 percent of required staff per shift, resulting in extensive use of leave and overtime, the analysis found.

County officials, however, claim data on jail staff collected in early summer 2019 is no longer relevant in the post-COVID world, and plan to redo the study.

"(We were) in a much different environment in the jail," County Executive Jeff Smith told San Jose Spotlight. "We're recommending that we go out again to get another consultant to do a new study based on new data."

Santa Clara County jails saw a significant drop in incarcerated people in the last 18 months -- from 3,239 to 2,342 people, according to the county. County officials anticipate the jail population will remain low because of a recent initiative that allows early release for those with good behavior credits. Plus, its diversion program releases individuals with mental health and substance use disorders into community services and treatment facilities.

This story, from Bay City News Service, was originally published on San Jose Spotlight.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.