Time to outsource the O.C. jail deputies?

I never thought I would write this, but kudos to interim O.C. Sheriff Jack Andersen. He has “proposed pulling hundreds of deputies from the state’s second-largest jail system and replacing them with career correctional officers,” according to the L.A. Times.

Here are a few more excerpts from the L.A. Times article:

The move, which would dramatically change the way Orange County jails are operated, would create a new career path in the Sheriff’s Department: employees who are permanently assigned to the county jails. For decades, deputies have spent the initial portion of their careers — sometimes eight years or longer — in the jails before moving to patrol or other assignments.

The proposal comes amid a number of scandals — and a grand jury investigation — involving management of the jails. The county recently agreed to pay $600,000 to resolve a lawsuit filed by the family of John Chamberlain, an inmate who was beaten to death in 2006. The lawsuit alleged that a deputy falsely told an inmate that Chamberlain was in custody for child molestation, prompting inmates to attack him, and that deputies ignored Chamberlain’s cries for help.

In January, The Times reported a second case in which a video showed Orange County deputies apparently hitting a prisoner on the head while he sat passively on a bench, then repeatedly shocking him with a Taser after he was handcuffed, even after the inmate had been strapped into a restraint chair.

Anderson said his proposal was motivated entirely by the cost savings that could be achieved by replacing deputies with professional jailers, not allegations of misconduct within the jails. Because correctional officers will be paid about half of what deputies are paid, the proposal would save the county $26 million to $34 million per year, he said.

“How could you not support it? We’re saving tens of millions of dollars a year,” Anderson said.

Anderson can expect strong opposition to his proposal from the deputies union.

“I challenge the acting sheriff to show how hiring less-qualified, less-trained personnel, and personnel with questionable backgrounds, will make our custody inmates safer and the surrounding communities safer,” said Wayne Quint, president of the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. “Public safety is going to be negatively impacted. You get what you pay for. We’ve had some incidents in our jails, but overall our jails are among the safest in the country.”

How will this proposal impact public safety? What is Quint smoking? This proposal has nothing to do with patrol officers. If you ask me, the deputies in the jails have had way too many chances. They blew it. Time to replace them and save some money in the process.

By the way, “Josh Booty, the brother of USC quarterback John David Booty, was subdued with a Taser after being arrested early Wednesday in Santa Ana on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said Thursday,” according to the L.A. Times. “During the struggle about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, Amormino said, Booty hit his eye on the ground or a table and suffered a black eye.” I smell another lawsuit…


Steven Greenhut has weighed in on this story with his own comments. Here are a few excerpts from his post, over at the Orange Punch blog:

Supervisor John Moorlach likes the idea. In his weekly newsletter, he writes:

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