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South Coast Law Enforcement Officials Face Tense Situation: Budget Shortfall In Staffing

Resolving budget issues in one South Coast law enforcement agency has become a tense battle for funding and staffing.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown says he is actively recruiting to fill more than 50 openings in his department but the process and selection protocol has been slow.

The comments came during the first wave of budget workshops prior to the new fiscal year in July.

The Deputy Sheriff's Association also spoke to the Board of Supervisors saying the members have to work mandatory overtime now because of the shortage in order to meet the requirements in the jail and on the patrol shifts.

Supervisor Salud Carbajal called the situation "a crisis."

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said the plan to close a smaller north county jail and save a million dollars - suggested by the Sheriff - can not be the only option on the table and he would not support it.

On top of that, plans for a new larger North County jail came back with bids of $11-million higher than the county expected.

More information on the jail funding issues will be presented in a special hearing next month. A final balanced budget must be approved by July 1.

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