MERCED -- Two promotions at the Merced County Sheriff's Department are expected to add more oversight to a management staff that's been whittled down in years past because of budget cuts.
Sgt. Jason Goins and senior Sgt. Erin Ristine were notified Thursday that they'll be promoted to lieutenant, which becomes effective Monday. Goins will oversee the Main Jail and Ristine will oversee the John Latorraca Correctional Center.
The two new lieutenant spots were approved by the Merced County Board of Supervisors in June. The cost of the positions will be offset by the deletion of a vacant commander position and another vacant position that will result from the transition.
Undersheriff Tom Cavallero said the Sheriff's Department went from five commanders to two a couple years ago, and taking steps to add more supervision is a responsible move for the administration.
Goins spent four years with the Dos Palos Police Department before moving to the Sheriff's Department, where he's worked for the past 19 years. He expects his new role as lieutenant to be a collaborative effort between himself, the jail sergeants and Ristine.
Goins has worked in several capacities within the department, including the Merced-Mariposa Narcotics Task Force and the coroner's division, and as detective sergeant in charge of the investigations unit; as a field training officer; and as a patrol sergeant.
He's also been through the FBI Academy.
On Friday, Goins gave credit to the personnel he's supervised over the years and thanked them for their commitment, calling them a "hardworking and dedicated" group.
When Goins was in charge of investigations in 2010, the department solved 13 of 15 homicides.
"He's had a lot of success here and has shown how he can manage and lead," Cavallero said.
Ristine, a 22-year veteran of the department, has worked in various capacities within the Corrections Division. She had also served as an acting commander until a board action eliminated the commander title.
She expects the restructuring to be beneficial for both jails operated by the department.
"I think it's going to be a much better system," Ristine said. "It's very hard for one person to try and take care of both facilities, because you're basically running two small cities. The oversight is definitely needed."
Both Goins and Ristine will report to Capt. B.J. Jones until another corrections captain is hired, Cavallero said.
The spot is expected to be vacated by Capt. James Buttrey, who is set to retire Aug. 25.
His decision to leave the department doesn't have anything to do with the promotions, Cavallero noted.
"This doesn't have any association with any personnel issues going on right now," Cavallero said. "We've been talking about this and working with the county for probably close to a year on this project."
"I'm sure they'll both be successful," Cavallero added. "I think it's going to take time for them to adapt to their new roles."
Goins' base salary will increase to $92,352 a year from $82,555.20, according to the Merced County Human Resources department. Ristine's annual base salary will bump up to $79,768 from $71,260.80.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or email@example.com.