By Debra Moore
Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns is in desperate need of dispatchers and he said if something isn’t done soon, then he will have to pull deputies off the streets to handle the calls that come into the dispatch center.
Johns pleaded his case before the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 10.
And it’s not only dispatchers, Johns said his department is critically short of corrections officers. Part of the dire situation is due to the rate of pay and the other part is due to the long hiring process.
On the financial side, Johns said he knows the board is in the process of negotiating a salary increase for dispatchers. “If it’s the intent of the board to give them a small raise, it won’t be enough,” he said.
Johns told the supervisors that this is not the first time he has come to them to discuss dispatchers and corrections officers, but nothing happens.
He discussed the hiring process, describing it as a box — the Human Resources department starts the recruiting process, then tests – then conducts oral interviews – then puts them into background checks. “It can take three to four months,” he said.
Conversely, in other jurisdictions, such as Lassen County, applicants are tested within 24 hours and the results given to department head and they can be interviewed within a couple days.
He said that with the current job climate, it is unacceptable for the process to take this long. Those applying at private businesses can have a job within the day; at the mill within a couple of days. “We need to get that process in place,” he said.
He warned the supervisors again that if something isn’t done soon, the county will be losing dispatchers.
Former Sheriff Greg Hagwood, reiterated the need in a conversation following the meeting. He described the difficult and critical nature of the job, and agreed with Johns that something needs to be done. He said that when he was sheriff the process was incredibly slow, and they would lose applicants to other job opportunities.