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Baca faces heat over jail riots

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first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card “The budget shows … annual increases to his budget have equaled or exceeded the growth in the general fund, with even greater percentage increases in patrol and administration.” Over the past three years, officials said, the Sheriff’s Department’s annual budget has grown from $1.66 billion to $1.93 billion now. At the same time, Baca’s administrative budget has soared from $47 million to $74 million, and his patrol budget from $513 million to $631 million. Baca concedes he has received more money to pay for salaries and overtime, rising operating costs and taking over the $40 million contract to patrol Metropolitan Transportation Authority routes. But he still says he wasn’t given enough money to prevent him from closing jails, giving early release to tens of thousands of inmates or cutting the ranks of deputies to balance his budget. “I’ve never made the accusation that the board callously ignored public safety,” Baca said. “It was essentially the county being in a cash-poor position – caused by recession and the state raiding local dollars – that led to the belt-tightening.” Combined with the slayings of eight inmates at Men’s Central Jail in the past two years, the riots that claimed one life this weekend at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic raise the question of whether the jails are adequately staffed. More racial violence broke out Monday night at Pitchess Detention Center just hours after Sheriff Lee Baca faced criticism over the shortage of deputies needed to secure county jails. The large brawl late Monday between 80 to 90 African-American and Latino inmates was quickly brought under control by guards, authorities said. Earlier, county officials disputed Baca’s contention that the high inmate-to-deputy ratio is the result of a $167 million cut from his budget since fiscal 2002-03. They pointed to documents showing that the Sheriff’s Department’s budget has actually grown by 14 percent since 2002-03 and that Baca has simply had to absorb $167 million in spending to cover some soaring costs, as for workers’ compensation. “We did not cut his budget,” said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who is up for re-election in June. “They can spin it or rationalize it any way they want. The board has actually increased the sheriff’s budget for the last 10 years. “Supervisor Yaroslavsky is correct that the sheriff’s budget, to my knowledge, has never been cut,” said Merrick Bobb, special counsel to the supervisors on the Sheriff’s Department. “Nonetheless, there is serious understaffing at the county jails. “In particular, that is due to normal attrition plus unusually high rates of resignations as deputy sheriffs, tired of working five years or more in the jails, leave the department for what they perceive to be greener pastures, particularly in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.” The genesis of the understaffing problem began earlier this decade when Baca’s budget went $55 million into the red and he angered the supervisors by purchasing a $2.4 million airplane without their knowledge. Baca was also criticized for providing hundreds of take-home cars to executives and for spiraling overtime, expected to hit a record $159 million this year. The supervisors, who control how much money Baca gets but have little say in how he spends it, had sought to rein in Baca’s spending by tightening controls over the purchases of fixed assets and asking Baca to balance his budget. Then in the summer of 2002, Baca threatened to begin releasing inmates early from the jails if the supervisors didn’t increase his budget by $100 million. Shortly afterward, the supervisors made the first of what Baca characterized as $167 million in cuts in 2002-03 and 2003-04. In the following years, Baca campaigned for 0.5 percent sales-tax increase, which voters rejected in 2004. Baca hopes to place a 0.25 percent sales-tax hike on the ballot again this year to address gang violence. In 2002, Baca began closing jails and releasing inmates after they served 10 percent of their sentences. He also stopped hiring deputies for two years, resulting in a current shortage of about 1,100 deputies. And despite hiring 578 deputies last year, the department gained only a handful after attrition. The shortage of deputies has resulted in some of the highest inmate-to-deputy ratios in the nation, with one deputy to watch 50 inmates at the Castaic jail, which Bobb called a “very disturbing figure.” At Men’s Central Jail, the ratios range from one deputy per 33 inmates on the day shift to one deputy per 320 inmates in some dormitories, according to a recent Sheriff’s Department report. “It is extremely difficult, with these ratios, to maintain a safe and secure environment,” Bobb said. “It’s very difficult, if not impossible.” In 2004, Bobb recommended a ratio of one deputy per four inmates, which sheriff’s officials say is cost-prohibitive. Baca said he expects to hire 1,000 deputies this year for a net gain of 600, helping him boost jail staffing toward a more realistic goal of one deputy per 10 or 15 inmates. Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985 troy.anderson@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires

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first_img Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Foote said the difficulties that come with being a coach, one of which is longer working hours, isn’t too bad. The Detroit native said it’s not like he’s putting in the kind of hours those Ford Motor Company factory workers do. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Comments   Share   Top Stories center_img Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling The two-time Super Bowl champion explained he wants to be called “Foote” and not “coach,” though you can forgive players for making that mistake. After all, Foote is a coach now, and while he’s on the field, he’s running the drills — not participating in them. The 34-year-old said the transition has been made easier because he’s “been the old guy anyway” on the field the last few years, but he did not really have plans to become a coach. Offered the job in his final meeting with Bruce Arians after last season, one in which the head coach told him he would be a good coach, Foote said he took a couple of days to think about it before deciding to give it a shot.And so far, so good.“The communication that he has is different than from some coaches because he’s coming out of it and just, where his eyes were as a player and he can teach young guys,” Arians said. “He has great respect from the players.”Well, mostly. “I’m getting it from both sides,” Foote said with a smile. “The players are hard on me, calling me a sellout. The coaches are being hard on me, calling me a rookie, (saying) I don’t know anything. I’m taking some abuse in there, I’m taking it. But I can handle it. I can handle it.” – / 16 TEMPE, Ariz. — Last season, linebacker Larry Foote was the proverbial coach on the field, a veteran who was productive while also being knowledgeable enough about the game to help his teammates.Now, he’s the literal coach off it, though he’s not quite used to the idea.“Got to get adjusted to people calling me ‘sir’ and ‘coach,’” Foote, the Cardinals’ inside linebackers coach, said Tuesday after OTAs. “I done put the ‘sir’ fine up on the board. Don’t call me that. But it’s fun.”last_img read more