Deputies question staff changes

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By AMY LINDBLOM

While Tuolumne County Sheriff Dick Rogers says he does not have enough money to hire two new patrol deputies, he recently received the OK to create two new upper-management posts in his department.

For several months, Rogers and Undersheriff Lee Sanford have pushed for a department reorganization that would add two captain positions and a new sergeant position to oversee the team of officers.

"I need this in order to make this organization work efficiently and effectively," Rogers told the five Tuolumne County supervisors during county budget hearings on Aug. 26.

Rogers justified the proposal by saying that sheriff's departments in neighboring counties have captain positions which provide more promotion opportunities for lower-ranking officers.

"Everybody likes this new system," Rogers told supervisors.

Not so, say many members of his department.

Three days after supervisors approved the reorganization, and the day before Rogers and Sanford each left on two-week vacations, they met with about 50 members of the Tuolumne County Deputy Sheriff's Association to outline the staffing changes.

Deputy Ken Diaz, DSA president, said neither he nor any other DSA member was ever consulted when the changes were being discussed. But the change will affect their jobs and whom deputies, sergeants and lieutenants answer to. Diaz said he and other deputies heard about the changes through the grapevine.

At the meeting, which Diaz described as "emotional," officers questioned Rogers on his reasons for adding another layer of management to the department and how the restructuring would help patrol officers respond to emergencies.

"There was a lot of talk about how five to six deputies are getting ongoing aid from public assistance and the WIC (Women, Infant and Children nutritional program) because they don't make enough money for their families to get by," Diaz said. "And they are not getting a raise.

"A captain is not going to handle a 911 call, nor would I want him to. So what is this reorganization doing for us?"

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The Union Democrat
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