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Friday, January 18 , 2019, 2:45 am | Fair 54º


Santa Barbara Supervisors OK 5 Sheriff’s Positions for North County Jail Transition

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors unanimously allocated five new positions to the Sheriff’s Department Tuesday for the transition period to build and operate the North County Jail.

With the 5-0 vote, the supervisors approved one office professional, two custody sergeants and two custody deputies at the request of the sheriff.

They also approved drawing $250,000 from the North County Jail Operations Fund to pay for the positions for the remainder of the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said she felt the decision was premature and that the county should wait until bids on the jail come back.

She also expressed concern that the five positions would be promotions, so vacancies in the department would have to be back-filled.

“I’m afraid this will exacerbate the situation before it needs to,” she said.

Undersheriff Barney Melekian said that the five positions “are absolutely critical” to getting the jail project ready.

One of the transition position sergeants will be hired to develop a curriculum for training deputies, and the hires will need 300 hours of additional training to get up to speed, he said.

“This is work that has to start,” he said. 

The deputies will have to process hundreds of people to fill the positions required to staff the new jail, he said. The department currently has about 13 custody deputy vacancies.

“We believe it’s time to move on these five,” Melekian said, adding that the department will have an update during the county budget workshops.  

By that time, bids will be open, with a firmer hiring plan and dates, he said.

“The need is quite critical from an operational perspective,” he said.

Additional positions were called for from an independent consultant last year, and those will also be brought forward during the budget workshop in April.

Assuming the jail stays on its current timeline, those people won’t be needed until the transition to the new jail, Melekian said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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