State

Stanislaus County sheriff rethinks commute policy

Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson is re-evaluating a department practice that lets employees drive work vehicles to and from home after one of his captains hit a car while driving to his second home in Pacific Grove.

The March 26 noninjury accident happened in Monterey.

Sheriff's Capt. Tim David was not cited, and the two vehicles sustained minor damage, the California Highway Patrol said.

About 72 of the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department's 670 employees drive their work vehicles to and from home. The practice is for employees who may be called back to work at anytime, such as homicide detectives and command staff.

Christianson said his proposal only would apply to about 10 employees who live outside Stanislaus County.

With the exception of David — whose primary residence is in Modesto — and a sergeant who lives in the East Bay, Christianson said these employees live in counties adjacent to Stanislaus. The sheriff said David paid for the gas when he drove to Pacific Grove, about 140 miles from Modesto.

"We are trying to be responsible and willing to re-evaluate our business practices given the economic challenges," Christianson said. "If we were not looking at layoffs, reductions in staffing, it would be easy to defend a long-standing practice."

He said the change would result in minimal savings but sends the right message.

Christianson said he will talk to his department's unions about the proposal, adding he is required to do so when he proposes a change in work conditions.

The CHP said David was in a 2008 Ford Explorer and stopped behind a 2007 Ford Focus on a Highway 1 offramp in Monterey. The two vehicles were waiting to make a right turn at a light.

"The first vehicle started moving, noticed another car and stopped," CHP officer Robert Lehman said. "The second vehicle also moved forward but did not realize the first vehicle had stopped."

He said the accident is under review and fault has not been determined. Neither driver had any passengers, Lehman said.

Besides the Sheriff's Department, Stanislaus County has about 30 work vehicles that are driven home.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or 578-2316.

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