SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (CBS13) — The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office is losing deputies and it’s happening fast.
The sheriff said 10 deputies have left just within the last few months and two dozen more could be leaving soon. This is all because of a contract dispute with the county.
The sheriff said he is struggling to replace deputies for the same reason they’re leaving, the pay and the benefits are not enough to live. The contract dispute with the county has been going on more than four years with no clear end in sight.
“I have a list of 26 deputies that are ready to pull the trigger and head to other departments,” said San Joaquin County Sheriff Patrick Withrow.
Withrow said he doesn’t know what he’ll do if they leave. Other departments are making offers his deputies can’t resist.
“They just need to go across the street over to Manteca PD and can make up to $2,500 more a month. I don’t blame them they have to do what’s best to take care of their families,” he said.
Withrow said he’s suspending programs and coverage throughout the county just to have enough patrol officers. This includes the popular community car program.
Eight deputies involved in community policing programs throughout the county are now back to patrol, and the sheriff’s presence in Mountain House will decrease more than 50%. The community has no local police.
“We’re at a time now where we’re at a skeleton crew if we drop below this then we will not be able to handle the calls as they come in,” Withrow said.
The sheriff said right now, there are 66 deputies covering patrol. Temporary suspension of several programs will add 19 more officers to the streets, but he said that’s still nowhere near enough, and that he should have at least 129 deputies on patrol.
“Now it’s impacting us to the point where we can’t get people to want to come work with us or stay at our department,” he said.
Withrow said the county is not offering sheriff’s deputies a fair contract. He said what they’ve offered doesn’t give deputies a proper raise or fully cover the increased cost of living.
“They’re asking just give me enough so I can stay here and not lose money,” he said.
CBS13 repeatedly reached out to the county board of supervisors – the other party in this dispute – and we still haven’t heard back about their side of the story.