Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Grappling With Personnel Shortage

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is suffering from a severe shortage of personnel, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The office, which is currently in the midst of a massive overhaul, needs at least 1,300 sworn employees by July 1. But out of every 100 applicants, only two to three will become deputies thanks to the department’s rigorous standards. In fact, half of them can’t even pass the background check.

Sheriff McDonnell has launched an effort to step up recruitment, but he’s walking a delicate line. The department is trying to avoid past mistakes in which numerous individuals were hired despite a history of misconduct.

"We would rather work short than hire the wrong people," said Todd Rogers, the assistant sheriff in charge of personnel and recruitment. "We are not going to compromise our standards just to meet a hiring goal."

Maybe so. But the department must get creative—and fast. Deputies have been forced to work overtime, with some on back-to-back eight-hour shifts. That’s a disaster waiting to happen, according to Jeffrey Steck, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.

"It puts the deputies in danger, and I think it puts our population in danger, our citizens in danger," Steck said. "There is going to be some tragedy where we're going to look back at that guy who was on duty for 15 or 16 hours and say that was a mistake, say, 'I told you.' " 

Los Angeles County’s sheriff's department is the largest in the nation, with around 9,000 sworn deputies and a total of some 18,000 employees.

Read more about the LASD’s personnel shortage here.