Updated: Feb 19
The Department has lost over 100 Deputies and Correction Officers and they cannot replace them. Although the Sheriff blames this nations unemployment rate for his inability to hire, the real reason lies with his inept policy decisions. On the national level, unemployment is at an all time low; however, in Pima County the unemployment rate was lower in April 2016 when I was in office, than it was in January 2019 and yet we never had problems recruiting or hiring quality people.
The real issue is Deputies and Correction Officers are leaving this Department at an unprecedented rate with attrition almost double from when the current Sheriff took office. The reason they are leaving is because of historically low morale. He simply refuses to acknowledge such. In fact, his policy decisions routinely make matters worse.
Sheriff Napier addressed a retention issue as a hiring issue. Rather than accepting low morale as the reason people are leaving, he blamed low unemployment rates and increased starting pay. Had he spent as much time with his staff as he does with Washington D.C. elitists, he would have recognized the real issue, the issue of decompression. Correction Officers and Deputies have been fighting for decompression for years, but increasing pay for only the newest employee results in tenured officers making the same salary. Experience does matter, which is why decompression and maintaining a Step Program is so important.
Another example where Sheriff Napier’s solution wasn’t a solution at all and just added fuel to the fire of discontent. In 2018 Napier secretly gave his commanders a 20% pay raise while providing nothing for the rest of the staff. The commander pay raises were done on the backs of the Deputies and Correction Officers by not filling vacant positions. This bypassed the Board of Supervisors open hearing process where pay raises have always been addressed. These positions have now been permanently eliminated, leaving the Department dangerously understaffed. The Sheriff now touts these cuts as “budget savings” without consideration for officer and public safety.
Policies that have employees working 13 hour days and paying them for 12 is not only unsafe to Department members and their families, it’s unsafe to their health and further adds to an already dangerous job.
This is a real danger, not only for staff, but inmates and the community as well. Let’s not forget, it was under the current Sheriff’s watch that the PCSD jail had its first escape and its first homicide...ever. In custody deaths, assaults, and assaults on corrections staff are also at an all time high, and now the FBI is investigating the Department for various civil rights violations.