Sunday, February 20, 2011 – 05:00 p.m.
Last Modified: February 22, 2011 – 02:07 p.m.
An announcement is expected within the next two weeks related to the conclusion of a protracted investigation into allegations that training records of various sworn members of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department were falsified for purposes of receiving higher compensation, or to avoid mandated training, or both.
Training that was not completed, but nevertheless certified.
Sources say several of the people involved have already resigned and/or retired from the department.
Reportedly the overwhelming majority of those involved, currently do, or have previously held, the rank of Sergeant or greater. With some being former members of the departments executive staff.
After an initial investigation was conducted by sheriff’s personnel, material was turned over to the Riverside County District Attorney for the purpose of separating administratively-derived material from that which was obtained from criminal inquiry.
Under California law, material obtained from an administrative investigation may not be used in a criminal investigation.
The entire matter is now believed to be with the California Attorney General.
The situation at-hand in this matter is two-fold.
Certification to Maintain Peace Officer Status
All law enforcement training must be approved by the State of California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, otherwise known as the P.O.S.T. Commission.
Currently, a sworn peace officer holding a ‘Basic’ P.O.S.T. certificate in the State of California must complete a specific number of hours of training annually, or over a two year period, to maintain their peace officer powers.
The ‘Basic’ P.O.S.T. certificate is granted to an officer after graduating a state-approved basic law enforcement academy and the completion of one-year of on-the-job-training.
To manintain their peace office status, Sheriff’s Deputies assigned to correctional facilities must complete 24 hours of P.O.S.T. (STC) training annually.
Deputies in other assignments are required to complete 24 hours of training within a two-year period.
Individual who do not keep their training current can lose their peace officer status.
Sheriff’s deputies must also re-qualify with their designated firearms every four months.
P.O.S.T. falls under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Justice.
Advanced P.O.S.T. Certification Pay
Additionally, officers may qualify for various levels of P.O.S.T. certification, which also qualifies the officer for additional compensation, known as P.O.S.T. training pay.
To qualify for such higher certification, an officer must meet years of service requirements, plus possess a combination of education and training hours.
However, the possession of an advanced education degree from any accredited college or university can substitute for the training hours and years of service requirements. The higher the advanced degree, (e.g. Associate, Bachelors, or Masters) the lower the years of service requirement and the elimination of the training hour requirement.
Those individuals without degrees must use a combination of training hours and years of service to attain advanced P.O.S.T. certification and the accompanying increase in compensation.
The problem is believed to rest with individuals without a degree.
San Bernardino County grants P.O.S.T. training certification pay to sworn officers covered by the Memorandum of Understanding for the Safety Unit and Safety Management & Supervisor Unit, and also to those executives covered by the Exempt Compensation Plan.
To view the various compensation agreements, click here.
The county Exempt Compensation Plan and Exempt Compensation Ordinance states the elected Sheriff is not eligible to receive P.O.S.T. compensation.
To view the seven levels of P.O.S.T. certification and associated requirements click here.
All applications for P.O.S.T. certification are submitted by the applicant under penalty of perjury and must further be approved by a department head or their designate.
Approximately a year ago, allegations arose regarding the potential falsification of training records in order to receive additional P.O.S.T. pay, and or to actually avoid attendance at mandated training.
Much of the allegations now appear to have been substantiated.
Criminal offenses covered by the alleged acts may include, but is not limited to; perjury, embezzlement of public funds, misappropriation of public funds by a public officer, fraud, and conspiracy.
There is no statute of limitations for the offense of embezzlement of public funds by a public officer.
In addition to the alleged theft of funds, the question of individuals not maintaining their peace officer status may sit as an issue.
Sources say the number of individuals involved may range anywhere from as few as six to as many as two dozen. Those involved may possibly face discipline, with some incurring criminal charges, or both.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is one of the finest departments in the state.
It’s always disappointing when a handful of individuals, because of their laziness and greed, give a large organization what some are now describing as a black eye.