Sheriff's office shuffles positions

Dan McDonald
Staff Writer

The Plumas County Sheriff wants to scrap the undersheriff position in favor of two assistant sheriffs.

The Plumas County supervisors said that plan is fine with them.

By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the board gave Sheriff Greg Hagwood the OK to change the command structure that has been in place for the past 12 years.

Hagwood, who has been sheriff since Jan. 5 and was carrying out the sheriff’s duties for a year prior to that, said a new structure makes sense.

“We have been operating at a deficit when it comes to administrative assistants for two years,” Hagwood said. “That was a deliberate decision on my part to save what has ended up being a substantial amount of money.”

Despite the savings, Hagwood said, “That arrangement is not sustainable.”

“We have barely kept our head above water,” Hagwood added. “My strong sense is that we are losing ground. We are not capitalizing on opportunities that exist, and with the ability to restructure and have two assistant sheriffs it will allow us to provide better leadership within the agency.”

In addition to eliminating the undersheriff job, Hagwood’s reorganization plan calls for the elimination of a second, undetermined position in the department.

The pay for the two assistant sheriffs would be determined by averaging the compensation of the undersheriff and the other, to-be-determined position.

Two positions would be cut and two added. The overall financial obligation would remain the same.

Hagwood told the board one of the assistant sheriffs would be designated as his fill-in. That person would step in to handle the sheriff’s duties in his absence.

The sheriff said the two assistant sheriff positions would likely be filled from within the department. He said he intends to post the opening in-house for one week and conduct interviews the following week.

Under the new structure, one of the assistant sheriffs would be responsible for operations and the other would handle administrative duties.

Hagwood said both positions would fall under the mid-management bargaining unit.

He noted the undersheriff’s position was the source of some controversy during the preceding two administrations, when the job description was listed as an “at will” position.

“The (assistant sheriffs) will be attached to a bargaining unit,” Hagwood said.

“And I think it’s important that particularly the assistant sheriff position is one that is represented, one that is afforded the protections and benefits of the other employees.”

He said because of the insecurity associated with the undersheriff position — attempts were made to remove or demote past undersheriffs — that legacy has “left something of a bad taste in the pool of eligible candidates for this position.”

“From a principle standpoint, I think it is absolutely essential that men and women who have dedicated 20-plus years of service to the citizens of Plumas County be in a position where they can state their beliefs and pursue what is fundamentally correct without any fear of retribution or reprisal,” Hagwood said.

“And it’s essential from a principle standpoint that those two very important positions have representation and all the rights and benefits afforded to them so that there’s no question of impropriety.”

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