By Debra Moore
Sheriff Todd Johns plans to reorganize his department by eliminating some positions and adding others. He presented his plan to the Board of Supervisors during its Oct. 6 meeting.
Johns reminded the board of what he told them during his interview to succeed Sheriff Greg Hagwood. “I contend I don’t need an undersheriff,” he said.
Under the current model, there is an undersheriff, jail and patrol commanders, and special operations sergeants. John’s proposal would eliminate those positions and add two captain and two lieutenant positions. He would also add an Office of Emergency Services coordinator/trainer.
“In the past, the Sheriff’s Office has had as many as five managers to oversee these diverse responsibilities,” Johns wrote in a memo to the board. “In recent months, the Sheriff’s Office has worked to get by with three managers.” He said this has resulted in project delays and more responsibilities being offloaded to sergeants.
Recent retirements have left many vacancies within the department and an opportunity for reorganization.
Johns was sworn into office in January and was almost immediately confronted with the coronavirus pandemic. Then came the fires. He said those events have been time consuming and only strengthened his resolve that there has to be a better way to provide services to the county.
In essence, his responsibilities are twofold: general operations and the jail (custodial). The two captains would oversee all, while there would be one lieutenant for operations and one for custodial.
“I believe this model will provide for a more comprehensive management of the wide range of responsibilities in each division and help the Sheriff’s Office move projects forward that will increase efficiency and ensure the long-term viability of our facilities,” he wrote. He said it provides more coverage as well as additional levels of supervision.
There would be an initial cost savings of $46,443, which would slowly decrease over time.
Supervisor Lori Simpson asked Johns specific questions about the reorganization and job duties, but had no objections when it came time to approve the request.
Johns wants to begin the new year with the reorganization in place, so the board voted unanimously to direct the human resources department to begin the process of writing the job descriptions and associated work, with the goal of having it completed by the end of the year.
The supervisors approved requests from the Public Works Department and Public Health to fill vacant positions. Public Works received authorization to fill maintenance worker positions in Beckwourth and La Porte. Public Health received approval to hire a program division chief that is becoming vacant, as well as a health education coordinator, an epidemiologist and two contact tracers.
Additionally, the board authorized Human Resources to begin the process of recruiting a new Agricultural Commissioner and Sealer of Weights & Measures in the wake of Tim Gibson’s announced retirement. His retirement letter was met with the dismay by the board because it’s difficult to find an individual who holds both certifications. “This could be a challenging recruitment,” said County Counsel Craig Settlemire.