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Where I Stand: Public safety on the verge of collapse in Plumas

By Cassie Lavley

Plumas County dispatcher


Safety in Plumas County is on the verge of collapse. For over a year now several pleas have been made to the Board of Supervisors to help raise wages so the Sheriff’s Office can compete in the workforce and those pleas have been ignored. The result has been catastrophic. The 911 dispatcher center is now down to 3 full time employees and a supervisor to maintain 24 hour services for our county. The jail is being staffed by Patrol Deputies and the streets are being covered often times by a 2 man patrol unit for 10 plus hours a day for the entire county. The fact that the Board of Superviosrs is content to stand by while this happens is appalling to say the least. The Board was warned this was going to happen yet they have failed to act. Choosing to blame bad leadership instead of acknowledging wages as being the driving force of declining staff levels. These working conditions have been going on for several months now and the Board must realize that unless they take immediate action someone is going to get hurt be that someone in the public or one of the sheriffs office employees.

Many have sat before the Board pleading their case often times being ignored while the board members and CAO tap away on their laptops or phones in front of them. The blatant dismissal most get during public comment is shameful. I had wanted to once more address the Board but I have questioned if it is even worth it since they dont bother to pay attention to the cries for help anyway. I now have to hope that this letter may generate more public outcry.

The fact of the matter is the Board of Supervisors can issue a wage increase to help attract more employees to apply at the Sheriff’s Office but they have chosen not to. They continue to gamble with everyones safety in the county and the Sheriffs Office remains understaffed. The starting wage for a Dispatcher and Correctional Officer is $18.98 an hour. This is a laughable wage when we are asking people to work holidays, weekends, and endure more stress than the average job. They also take on more liability and are exposed to very unpleasant situations on a daily basis. We must do better and pay these people what they deserve.

If low wages weren’t enough the county Human Resources Department has delayed the hiring process on several occasions and continue to threaten to make the process even more challenging. We have applicants applying who do not hear back from the HR department for months. When they do finally hear back often times those applicants have moved on and found another position. When an applicant turns in an application the HR department does not provide that information to the Sheriff’s Office in a timely manner so we can at least reach out to those applicants, The problems with HR have been brought to the Board of Supervisors attention but again nothing has been done to improve the hiring process. The sheriffs office is not the only department struggling with the HR department. In fact several other departments in the county have gone to the Board of Supervisors voicing their concerns but you guessed it the Board remains silent with zero action taken.

The citizens of Plumas County need to start paying attention to their elected officials. The public needs to start demanding their elected officials act in their best interests. Having a hemorrhaging Sheriff’s Office is not in the best interest of this county, I think we can all agree on that. Please consider reaching out to your Board of Supervisors demanding an immediate wage increase for our Public Safety employees. We simply cannot wait any longer. The time to act is now.

25 thoughts on “Where I Stand: Public safety on the verge of collapse in Plumas

  • Why has the Board of Supervisors never responded in any way to what appears to be a real and impending disaster?

  • My email to the Supervisors regarding the hiring situation at the Sheriff’s Office went unanswered. I expressed concern about public safety in the county. I doubt I’m the only Plumas County resident wondering what the Board of Supervisors has in mind to address the issues brought to our attention by numerous county employees.

    • I’m sorry that you are feeling afraid. You are describing a very harsh reality. My suggestion would be to invest in a Bible, a dog, and a gun. Just in case the situation doesn’t change.

      • Sorry I meant to reply to original poster…

      • Most of us already have those things and it’s still getting worse

  • The supervisors need to act and act now or be recalled, how do we start that process?

    • Recalls cost money, which this county doesn’t have. I’d rather see money go to pay increases and solidify existing services. This county needs to increase revenue. There’s a variety of ways for that to happen. Meanwhile start fostering somebody who will run for supervisor that wants to find solutions to these issues.

  • Time for the public to get involved.

  • The county has received Covid relief funds. They vote to expand broadband??? Funds shoould go no further than first responders…

  • I guess the Board does not read Plumas News. This is a very serious situation that has been ignored. I would like to here a response from elected Director Jeff Engle ASAP

  • Hahaha. People are figuring out that the locals are stupid. But, hey, we are getting a new court house! Yay! No housing, bad infrastructure… A police department that has openly expressed desire for marshal law and uses underserved minorities as a scapegoat for the problems the police face. Guess, what I think? You are a community servant… You volunteered for a job that is difficult and get paid well for it. Suck it up, or find something else to do. The town slowly drifts into a ghost town, and we vote to spend millions on bike paths that no one uses. Stop the poverty, stop the problems. If people’s basic needs are met, problems go away. The best use of county services, are when they are not needed at all.

  • It is rude and unprofessional for paid county supervisors and CAO to use electronic devices during meetings. That should be banned. Secondly, this is a call to action for our Supervisors. Public safety is at risk and a no action strategy is not acceptable. Many will support recall if changes are not made.

  • I support D Linquist’s statement about the use of distracting electronic devices by the Members of the Board of Supervisors, while being addressed by the public with public concerns. This attitude of indifference is the epitome of arrogance The highest ranking board in the county,the BOS, need to be treated like errant, disrespectful school children and be required to deposit their phones with the BOS clerk when the meeting begins and retrieve them when the agenda is complete. Disgusting better describes their behavior than unprofessional. Perhaps a grass roots committee needs look more closely at the disbursement of the multimillions of dollars that flowed into Plumas County coffers as part of the Dixie Fire Settlement. This unprecedented receipt of funds were in the care, custody and control of this seemingly dysfunctional board. Thousands of reasons to recall them all. Public safety is the #1 responsibility entrusted to the BOS- if the board isn’t able to prioritize that issue- they don’t deserve to have the responsibility to make any decisions on behalf of the citizens of Plumas County.

    • Follow the money……

  • While I have never been to a Plumas board meeting, years ago at a board meeting at our former residence , (no smart phones or laptops in those days), it was the same m.o. of the supervisors looking down at their notepads seemingly bored and uninterested in what the public had to say no doubt doodling on those pads. Total lack of respect and extremely rude. Almost seems as though they think they are better than the citizens of the counties they are supposed to represent. Extremely rude and shows division of not being willing to work with the citizens and give ear to our county’s needs. We need to work together instead of “us versus them”.

  • On behalf of the entire board of supervisors I want to apologize for not taking the issue of public safety more seriously these past months. Public safety is our top priority and I will pledge today that this board will address the emergency services staffing crisis immediately by raising county employee salaries to competitive levels (at a living wage) even if this means higher taxes.

    Public safety is our top priority. This board appreciates and values the public and your comments and we will also pledge to discontinue the use of electronic devices during board meetings from this point on. Thank you for your support and understanding as we move toward an open government that values the public.

    • I pray that Social Services is also represented in the board reviewing the living wage increases. I need about 8-9 employees and many of our staff members have been up there in front of the board with no responses received. Work is not getting done over here and the public is not getting services timely because of low staffing. Hiring a worker for $16.00/hr is impossible.

      • Hey Pam! Did you see current hiring ad in this paper(well web paper)??Court Clerk $20.36-$27.77(starting) or Court Reporter $57.20-$69.55

    • Yeats ago during an election we voted down a hotel tax. You might want to consider that. Our area receives a tremendous amount of visitors who strain services more than our population can pay for through our own taxes. Pay attention to the vacancy tax truckee is looking into. It doesn’t seem all that great but we experience many of the same issues. It’s not just taxes. Start by incentivizing new business in our area. It’s nice to see new restaurants opening in vacant buildings especially in portola. Lastly, reconsider your stance on grants. They benefit this area more than they take. There’s many examples of where grants have given our area new opportunities and funded things out county cannot.

    • Jeff thanks for standing up and being accountable.

    • Thank you, Jeff! At least one board member is willing to acknowledge the public safety issues the county is up against! I sincerely hope the other supes will stand behind Jeff’s pledges.
      A note relating to this whole issue of understaffing, in the Sheriff’s dept and other county departments: if the HR and Auditor’s departments are part of the reason for the problem, then these are also issues the BOS has control over. Fix the HR and Auditor’s department, and that may help fix the problems in all other departments, if HR and Auditor’s office are truly part of the problem (which I believe they are.) I have no experience with HR, but have heard of and personally had interactions with the Auditor’s office that are appalling!

    • I have a hard time believing this is actually Jeff Engel commenting here and I expressed my doubts to Debra Moore several days ago. When has Jeff ever wanted to raise taxes? This is what the supes should say but unf. we got more deflection and denial…..people should have to verify their identities to comment here as it is quite confusing.

  • It’s unfortunate that several months of calls for action are met with one supervisor’s response as a reply in comments. We heard of a new business being started by another supervisor before even one small comment here. Mind you, no one working for the county at $16 or $19 dollars an hour will be able to afford this supervisor’s new services. They are probably looking at SNAP benefits right now. Anyone reading the paper probably read about the job fair coming up and the flowery perspective of the benefits of working for the county. There seems to be a complete disconnect on what employees need to survive and what the county offers. Let’s hope that Mr Engles’s comment is sincere and represents the BOS.

  • This problem is solvable. Many of the county office workers can likely be replaced by AI at a huge cost savings.


    They used to tell people “learn to code” to which I now say “learn to operate heavy machinery.” We need people that can do things like handle calls for service and fill holes in roads, not lawyers and administrators.

    ChatGPT, a well known AI program has already shown it can pass the bar and the medical certification test and can write much better than most office workers. (It can also code, and very rapidly.) The two highest paid positions in the county are the CAO and County Counsel and these are right in the middle of the spectrum of jobs that can be replaced by AI. And it won’t need security or a new courthouse. Add to that most director level positions and you have savings that would more than allow for the hiring and competitive paying of enough deputies, dispatchers and public works road crews.

    And just think of the savings!

    Who knows what’s next. An AI board?

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