L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies approve new contract

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies have approved a new contract that gives them cost-of-living raises and easier access to information about transfers and promotions.

The contract, which was hammered out through negotiations with county officials, gives the deputies a 3% raise each year for the next two years and a 2% raise for each of the following two years. Listings of transfer candidates and those who have been awarded “coveted” positions will now be posted on the department’s internal Internet system.

The Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, or ALADS, represents about 7,500 deputies and about 200 district attorney investigators. The minimum starting salary for a deputy sheriff trainee is about $60,000 a year, with college graduates receiving nearly $67,000, according to the Sheriff’s Department website.

The salary increases were the minimum required for county employees, said Mark Claahsen, vice president of ALADS. Ideally, Claahsen said, the union would have gotten greater increases to better compete with the LAPD and other agencies in recruiting.

“We need to stay competitive. We need to get the best out of the best out there,” Claahsen said.

The 18,000-member Sheriff’s Department is short more than 1,000 deputies, in part because of agreements with the ACLU and the federal government that require more staffing in the county jails to better care for mentally ill inmates and prevent excessive force by deputies.

To pick up the slack, deputies have been doing mandatory overtime, which often results in 16-hour shifts, Claahsen said.
“At some point, working all this mandatory overtime is going to affect your judgment and your job performance,” said Claahsen, a patrol deputy at Norwalk station. “We really need to keep people fresh. We need to have enough deputies on the department so they’re making good decisions every time in the field or in the jails.”

The contract, which lasts until Jan. 31, 2018, was approved by union members on Tuesday, with 76% voting yes. It still needs to be approved by the county Board of Supervisors.

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