The week’s focus was the 2018-2019 budget that begins on July 1st. The commissioners should be applauded for taking a bold step forward in anticipation of county growth by authorizing county staff increases to improve county wide delivery of services. The Sheriff’s Office got an increase of 5.5 employees. While we will need more employees in the years to come, it is a start.
Our greatest understaffed concerns have been with dispatching and the jail. For over a decade, our Communication Center (dispatch) has been working with skeleton crews. Imagine one dispatcher monitoring and answering the police radio channel and a second dispatcher doing the same with the fire and ambulance radio channel for 12 hours with nobody else there. Now imagine having the need to use the bathroom and you’ve got fire trucks and ambulances going to a Stagecoach house fire; and deputies going to a Fernley domestic violence call, a Smith Valley motor vehicle accident, and Dayton area deputies going to help out with the house fire. The dispatcher is glued to their chair whenever any public safety resource is on a call, which is almost the entire length of their shift.
That has been their work environment for a long time. On July 1st, we have been authorized an increase of two dispatchers, bringing our total to 12 dispatchers and three shift supervisors. We have not had much turnover in the past three years, but it does take 8-10 months to train dispatchers because of job requirements. The staff increases will bring us back to 2009 levels. Today’s call volume truly requires one shift supervisor, one call taker, one on the fire/ambulance network, and one on the police network as we dispatch for four fire/EMS districts, and four law enforcement/police agencies.
We would like to have more patrol deputies; however, with lowering crime rates and increases in prosecution, it is a hard argument to justify. More patrol deputies means more arrests with an understaffed jail who has to manage constitutional liabilities associated with prisoner management and processing records through mandated reporting requirements. Those liabilities include medical treatment, hospital transports, court appearances, and extraditions from surrounding agencies. We had to prioritize the jail as the greatest immediate need. On July 1st, the jail will increase staff by two deputies and one control room operator, and our record’s division will get a part-time clerk.
Prisoner medical funding to reduce liabilities and hospital transports was one of our bigger ticket items. It has been a challenge for a corrections-based prisoner medical contractor to commit because the area lacks enough qualified health care providers. We are working on solutions, and hopefully in the next few months, one will be found.
We are currently accepting applications for dispatcher and deputy sheriff at https://munisselfserve.lyon-county.org/MSS/employmentopportunities/default.aspx The control room operator employment application process will be posted soon.
And finally, it was a well-attended event yesterday to celebrate Davie Fulstone’s 95th birthday. What really shocked a majority of us attending an Onion shed dance later last night was watching the women line up to dance with Davie, who moved like he was still in his 20's. He was quite the sight for many of us middle aged men struggling with life’s aches and pains.
As always, keep the faith!