State

2 Stanislaus County deputies earned more than bosses

In 2008, two sheriff's deputies brought home more money than their sergeant bosses despite having far lower base salaries. Wayne Whitfield made more than $47,000 in overtime, and John Heilman more than $40,000, each grossing more than $110,000.

That year, 14 deputies and sergeants, who are eligible for other types of overtime, landed on the county's $100,000-plus list. But in 2009, only eight officers made the same list, and none of those who dropped off the list had retired.

"We've done several things to try to reduce overtime expenses, because it is a significant budget impact," Undersheriff Bill Heyne said.

For example, jails are more often staffed with temporary employees, and attractive opportunities for overtime at car auctions and high school football games have been spread out more among patrol deputies, Heyne said.

Sheriff's management continues to crack down on overtime, but expects to see it creep back up after a big round of layoffs coming in the next couple of months, Heyne said. Fewer deputies will mean more overtime, because public safety never turns off.

"A lot is outside our control," Heyne said. "When you get a homicide, you don't just fold up shop and go home because you can't afford to pay overtime. Usually it's within the first 24 hours that you solve a crime."

Sheriff's managers plan to close most of the Stanislaus County Honor Farm near Grayson, reassigning guards there to other county jails. One Honor Farm barracks will remain open because cities pay for work by inmate crews, such as trash pickup, the undersheriff said.

The department's current strategy envisions laying off more patrol deputies than custodial deputies, filling "fixed posts" mandated by law at certain levels per jail unit, Heyne said.

— Garth Stapley

Related stories from Merced Sun-Star

  Comments