Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Monday, Nov. 20 @ 2:12 p.m.
Short 11 Deputies, Del Norte's Sheriff is Sponsoring New Recruits Through Academy
Del Norte County’s sheriff is sponsoring three local recruits through the basic police academy at College of the Siskiyous.
Garrett Scott said he has more than 30 applicants to choose from and one position has already been filled. Though the application window for sponsorships closed Friday, the sheriff is urging those who can pay their way to enroll, saying a DNSO job may be theirs once they graduate.
“I know we’ll have more (job) openings during the academy and once they graduate,” Scott told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Monday. “I’ve only got a couple sponsored positions. That’s all I can afford. If you can afford to put yourself through, as long as your background’s clear there’s a good chance you’d get picked up as an employee.”
The DNSO posted information about sponsoring recruits through the academy on its Facebook page Nov. 14. Those who are accepted would be hired as deputy recruits, receive an hourly wage as well as tuition and room and board to attend the academy, Scott said. Once they graduate, the sheriff will swear them in and enroll them in the DNSO’s field training program.
Scott said his goal is to get locals to go to the academy.
“In Del Norte County, people still believe in the old ways to help your communities out,” he said. “They want to make a difference in their town. They see the drug crisis, the fentanyl crisis and the theft problems.”
This is the first time during Scott’s tenure as sheriff that the DNSO has sponsored recruits through the academy.
About a week before the DNSO advertised its academy sponsorships on Facebook, Scott went before the Board of Supervisors, asking to form a committee to come up with ways to keep employees.
On Monday, the sheriff told the Outpost that out of 19 deputy positions, 11 are currently vacant. The eight working for the sheriff’s office currently include the undersheriff and the two detectives that heads the department’s major crimes investigations, Scott said.
At the Board’s Nov. 7 meeting, Scott said he could see the county having just one deputy on patrol if he and county supervisors didn’t come up with a way to combat competition from other law enforcement agencies. He told supervisors he was at the point of shutting down shifts, which affects every district in the county since the sheriff is also the coroner.
On Monday, Scott said he hired about four deputies in the last year and a half, all from outside Del Norte County. But, he said, he could not keep them.
“One left at 10 months. He was an outstanding deputy and he went to Yuba County where his family’s at. They offered him $42 an hour to work there,” Scott said. “Then I lost one over to Shasta or Siskiyou and I’m losing another one to Lake County. They’re paying $32 an hour.”
Though the window for academy sponsorship closed Friday, Del Norte County is still advertising Deputy Sheriff-Coroner I and Deputy Sheriff-Coroner II positions.
The Deputy Sheriff-Coroner I salaries range from $1,990.10-$2,418.98 biweekly, according to the job listing. Deputy Sheriff-Coroner II salaries range from $2,089.62-$2,539.94 biweekly.
In addition to completing the academy, a DNSO cadet must also pass a background check, which includes firearm and financial clearances. They must also have completed a psychological evaluation, a physical and be of good moral character, Scott said.
He noted that while he’s hiring patrol deputies, recruits could eventually move to the investigations unit, boating and safety or K9 division.
Since it began a sponsorship program through the police academy at College of the Redwoods, the Crescent City Police Department is one officer shy of being at full staff, Chief Richard Griffin said.
About two years ago the City Council approved the sponsorship program, which involved the city paying the fees and tuition associated with the academy, along with housing and food costs.
The new recruit also received an hourly wage plus benefits.
Under the city’s program, the new recruit has to agree to pay back the cost of attending the academy unless they work with CCPD for five years and then it would be forgiven.
“We looked at how much it costs for the academy and if you take away wages, the academy with housing and tuition is $10,000,” Griffin said. “On a five-year repayment plan, it would be forgiven at 20 percent a year so long as you stay with us.”
One CCPD cadet is currently going through the police academy, Griffin said. Two others were sponsored through the academy before coming to work with CCPD, he said. Like Scott, Griffin said he wants to make sure new-hires have roots in Crescent City.
“We have had a lot of good success with applicant pools for cadet positions,” Griffin said. “We have five applicants we’ll be looking at for this next round of interviews.”