Failure to Recognize Failure

Crushing Overtime Requirements Within the LASD Are Still the Name of the Game

“Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.” – Lily Tomlin

It has been over six months since my October 3, 2023, article in The Current Report, “The Murder of a Deputy Sheriff Amid Questions of Leadership,” and working conditions within the LASD have failed to improve even one iota.  In fact, based upon a recent review of deputy sheriff staffing levels within the North Patrol Division of the Department, it is my considered opinion that things are arguably even worse than they were.

While the Department has reduced the allowable number of overtime hours a deputy can work from 120 per month to 96 (the old standard), all this move did was force even more people into the never-ending tidal pool of too much overtime to be healthy or sustainable.

For example, someone who had previously been able to squeak by with “only” working 50-60 hours of overtime in a month has now had to work more hours to make up for those who had been working the 120-hour maximum.  I guess the concept was for everyone to feel the sting of working until you can’t safely do your job.

The following information was obtained from the LASD document, “Positions Available, Filled, and Vacant as of April 7, 2024.”

Station            Deputy Items             Deputies Assigned   Vacancies      Down

LAN                187                             157                             30                    -16%

MAL                122                             98                                24                    -19.6%

SCV                174                             138                             36                    -20.6%

WHD              111                              89                                22                    -19.8%

PLM                167                             143                             24                    -14.4%

Totals              761                             625                             136                 -17.9%


Dismal numbers to be sure, but there is yet another layer of reality that is not accounted for in the Department document, and that is the number of personnel who are assigned to the station but who are unable to work a regular patrol (in the field) function.  This includes those personnel who are listed as being IOD (Injured on Duty), ROD (Relieved of Duty), Light Duty, or on loan.

Let’s look at the unit with the highest reported vacancy factor of -20.6%, Santa Clarita Valley Station (SCV).  It has been intimated that there is up to an additional 34 personnel assigned to the station who fall into the above-listed categories. If this information is to be relied upon, it increases the vacancy factor to nearly -40% of station personnel unable to perform field duties.

There are a limited number of positions at a patrol station where someone who is Light Duty can work.  You can only assign so many people to desk duties.  What can you do with the rest??

As has been noted in the past, the Department is currently relying on personnel working overtime at an insane level to cover the vacancy factor.  This includes voluntary overtime, drafted or involuntary overtime, CARPing (moving personnel like station detectives to line patrol functions), changing deputy shifts or days off, etc.

Virtually all the currently employed options take a heavy toll on the personnel if done over an extended, seemingly never-ending cycle. This is exactly what is occurring.

Where will it end?  The current Sheriff and his administration seem to be missing in action when seeking an answer to this simple question.  Maybe part of this is due to the fact that after nearly a year and a half in office, the Sheriff hasn’t even made a visit to all of the patrol stations.  Why not?

Since this is retirement season, the Department can expect to lose between 300-400 personnel.  With the reported low-volume scheduled academy classes, it is clear that the Department won’t even be able to keep up with the anticipated attrition rate.

Patrol stations throughout the county have reported an unnerving number of patrol cars being “busted” on a routine, daily basis.  This means fewer cops on the streets to protect not only the public, but each other.  This is an unacceptable and dangerous situation that must be addressed before something disastrous occurs.  Who do you call when there are no more cops to handle calls?  Who do the cops call when they need help?

I continue to pray daily for my brave brothers and sisters who answer the call to duty each and every day.  I’m fearful that prayers alone are not going to be enough when the rubber meets the road.  Regrettably, and in the words of Lily Tomlin, it does appear as though “Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.”

Mike Bornman

Michael Bornman, Captain (ret) LA County Sheriff’s Department, 36 years of service. Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, Bachelor’s Degree in English, Associate’s Degree in Police Science.

1 Comment

  1. Another excellent article by Captain Bornman. Politicians, DAs, and judges are ensuring that criminals stay on our streets, and law enforcement is bogged down with ridiculous policies, budget problems, and low morale. Effective law enforcement leadership has never been so important, and LASD has had an unfortunate procession of weak Sheriff’s for several decades. If LASD is ever again to be a strong agency, capable of ensuring reasonable levels of safety for it’s communities, strong leadership is immediately required. One thing is very clear – the incompetence and failure to address problems by the current sheriff is a prescription for disaster.

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