Jim McDonnell

“We will not compromise our hiring standards,” L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell told supervisors on Tuesday. “I’d rather work short-staffed than hire the wrong people for our organization.” (Nick Ut/Associated Press)

By Abby Sewell
April 14, 2015

As the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launches a major hiring push, county officials are concerned that it will have a hard time filling hundreds of positions without compromising hiring standards.

During discussions about the budget for the coming fiscal year Tuesday, county supervisors called for the sheriff to develop a “hiring and recruitment plan which includes strategies for attracting qualified and diverse applicants.”

The department is trying to fill 440 deputy and sergeant positions now. In the coming weeks, the Board of Supervisors will probably approve another 77 positions needed to implement a settlement in a lawsuit over abuses in the jails and an anticipated settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over the treatment of mentally ill inmates and the prevention of inmate suicide.

And the recommended budget for next year would add another 119 positions, many of them intended to help the department implement further reforms.

In a previous hiring push under then-Sheriff Lee Baca in 2010, the department hired dozens of applicants who had serious issues in their backgrounds, including criminal convictions, on-duty misconduct, poor job performance and financial problems.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell promised that won’t happen this time.

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