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Big cuts proposed for L.A. County sheriff, including jail transfers

March 2, 2010 |  3:05 pm

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef0120a57a6216970b-320wiThe Los Angeles County Sheriff''s Department is considering dramatic cuts to its budget that would include downsizing the Pitchess Detention Center in northern L.A. County as well as moving hundreds of administrators and desk-duty deputies into street patrols.

L.A. County officials have told the Sheriff's Department they want reductions of $128 million or 9% of the nearly $1.3 billion the county budgets for the department, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore. These reductions would take place over the next 16 months.

"Sheriff [Lee] Baca is working in conjunction with the county supervisors to find the most effective way to make these drastic cuts," Whitmore said. "The sheriff is committed to not laying anybody off. His proposals will protect jobs."

Most of the savings -- about $58 million -- would be achieved through reductions in overtime, Whitmore said. As a result, Whitmore said, many of the uniformed deputy sheriffs assigned to administrative duties would be "working schedules that otherwise would be worked by deputies performing overtime."

The group would include the sheriff's command staff and even Sheriff Lee Baca himself.

"He may be a watch commander, he may go back out on patrol," Whitmore said. "Wherever the need is greatest, he will fulfill that role. The sheriff's message is clear. We're all in this together, we all have to make sacrifices."

Another significant move will be to transfer hundreds of inmates from the 1,900-bed north facility of  Pitchess to other jails in the county system. That would save about $26 million, although the facility would remain open with a significantly smaller inmate population.

Whitmore said the Sheriff's Department plans to eliminate 300 frozen positions at savings of $44 million.

-- Andrew Blankstein
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