General Crime

* Does Contra Costa County Even Need A Sheriff ?

A huge portion of the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department (CCSD) budget is consumed by the cost of salaries and benefits. Yet the County Supervisors are now on record of not wanting to curb public employee costs including pension benefit abuse, even as it maintains insane “3 at 50? retirement policies.

Absent some lawsuit against the Contra Costa County Employee Retirement Association (CCCERA), that would seek a court order to force CCCERA to follow California law and stop pension spiking and make good on over payments retroactively since 1997, any hope of reducing or even stemming those rising costs are lost.

Most likely, deputies are in the jails and not on patrol or other law enforcement activities. Most likely, non-jail CCSD employees are providing services on contract to many cities and unincorporated areas which also bear the overhead costs of the CCSD’s salary and bloated retirement benefits costs.

Therefore, it might make more sense for contract cities to create a joint powers authority (JPA) to provide law enforcement services. They could pool their resources, and at the same time build a public safety force freed of the financial burden of the CCSD’s pay-and-benefits structure and jail overhead.

Spinning off patrol and investigation functions to such JPAs would allow the CCSD to focus on jails, where most of its deputies already work. Since that would make it more of a correctional rather than law-enforcement agency, it would make sense to transition the business of running the jail to correction officers, rather than with more costly deputies.

San Carlos may be on the right track as it works out details of outsourcing both its fire and police services, but still needs to cut out the middleman expense of those San Mateo Sheriffs and prison costs.

Given the dire fiscal times we live in, we ought to be looking at a variety of solutions, even when they challenge our traditional experience and understanding of how, in this case, county law enforcement and correctional services are provided. The question is, can the Contra Costa County Supervisors (BOS) even see past the blinders of their blatant obeisance to the public employee unions before whom they grovel?

Indeed, if the County jails are more a correctional issue, then it would also make sense for the BOS to begin immediately to draw up plans to outsource its County jail to a private operator. Better yet, Supervisors could piggy back on Governor Schwarzenegger’s recent call to outcource California’s incarcerated to Mexico!

They send us illegals…we send them ours. See…there is balance in the universe.

by BGR on April 5, 2010

Reprinted with Permission of Halfway to Concord.

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