The first graduating class of Allan Hancock College’s CORE Custody Deputy Program included deputies for sheriff’s departments in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.  (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

After 220 hours of instruction, 15 more custody deputies are closer to serving full time with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Allan Hancock College’s CORE Custody Deputy Program, under its law enforcement training program, graduated its very first class last week, as the Sheriff’s Department works to boost recruitment in the wake of staffing shortages.

The academy had traditionally been run by the Sheriff’s Department itself, and graduates still have another period of training to go before they become full-fledged custody deputies.

In addition to the 15 Santa Barbara County deputies, seven from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office also graduated in a ceremony held at the college’s Public Training Complex in Lompoc. 

Most of the Santa Barbara County graduates were hired and sworn in together in July.

“The world you are about to inhabit is among the most challenging in the criminal justice profession,” Undersheriff Barney Melekian told the new deputies. “You will be challenged in ways that will test your patience, your courage and your commitment to the principles of the Constitution.”

The deputies’ instruction included arrest and control, classification of inmates, contraband detection, emergency planning in a custody facility, ethics, investigation procedures, physical training and report writing, according to sheriff’s department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

The basic-training curriculum is certified by the California Standards and Training for Corrections.

“We live in an era where the concept of service above self is portrayed as outdated or even foolish,” Melekian said at the ceremony. “Your decision to enter public service, to serve others, is a repudiation of that belief. You may have not realized it when you filled out the application, but something drove you to pick this path when there were other paths available that might have been easier.”

Santa Barbara County custody deputy Francisco De La Mora was named valedictorian of the class and received the class’ Leadership Award. Custody deputy Guiseppe Arnoldi, also of the county, received the Most Inspirational Award.

Transfers to other law enforcement agencies and retirements among sheriff’s department custody deputies have caused staffing shortages, which lead earlier this year to mandatory overtime for custody deputies.

In April, the county’s Deputy Sheriffs Association said that spreading those deputies around “impacted the sheriff’s ability to provide the kind of public safety services Santa Barbara residents expect and deserve.”

Custody staff operate the Main Jail near Santa Barbara and the Santa Maria Branch Jail, which were reduced to half-day operations a number of times because of staffing shortages.

Hoover told Noozhawk that, even though the graduation doesn’t mean an immediate form of relief for the shortages, it will help in the long run.

“It’s not instant, but it will help once they’re fully trained,” she said.

Graduates for Santa Barbara County’s Sheriff’s Department were Guiseppe Arnoldi, Tori Campbell, Saul Diaz Jr., Kevin Ericksen Jr., Joemarie Fuentes, Cindy Guendulain, Drew Hanafee, Liana Magda, Marcus Naranjo, Robert Rochelle, Segun Ogunleye Jr., Francisco De La Mora, Robert Ferrel, Thomas Fournier and Jesus Lopez.

Graduating from San Luis Obispo County’s office were Cory Bright, Tylor Bundy, Tanya Minder, Patricia Montalvo, Scott Needham, Clifford Pacas and Kyle Thomson.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.