By Jeff Horseman | | The Press-Enterprise
February 10, 2018 at 9:00 am

A consulting firm getting more than $40 million from Riverside County to make county government more efficient used a misleading measure to claim it improved response times at the Sheriff’s Hemet station, sheriff’s officials said in a wide-ranging critique of the firm’s efforts.

While saying his department will continue to work with KPMG, Sheriff Stan Sniff said he hasn’t seen any evidence that the firm’s work has yielded savings.

Working with KPMG has “burned up thousands of hours of our time,” Sniff said. “It’s awful hard to optimize when only two people are on duty.”

In emailed responses to questions, the county executive office, which reports to the county Board of Supervisors, defended KPMG’s work. The Sheriff’s Department “approved the methodology to calculate response times” before the Hemet experiment began, the office said.

“The Sheriff’s Department did not raise major concerns about the effectiveness of the Hemet pilot when it ended,” the office said. “If there were such several problems, it is difficult to understand why the Sheriff’s Department would agree to expand the pilot to the Lake Elsinore station.”

KPMG, which has offices worldwide, was originally hired in 2015 during a dispute between the county and some of its 28 cities over rates charged to cities that have contracts with the Sheriff’s Department instead of their own police departments.

The firm’s role has since grown to look for efficiencies throughout county government, with the goal of fostering a culture that makes decisions based on hard numbers.

KPMG drew up scores of recommendations, many pertaining to public safety. The sheriff can save money by rearranging deputies’ schedules to meet periods of high demand and using non-sworn staff to handle minor, non-emergency calls, KPMG said.

Are response times rising?

KPMG launched a staffing experiment in June at the Hemet station to test its concepts. Capt. Leonard Purvis, who runs the Hemet station, asked to go back to the department’s regular scheduling system in December.

Sheriff’s officials issued a news release Jan. 26 contending the KPMG staffing model caused response times to domestic violence, burglary and similar calls to rise 58 percent in unincorporated areas. The executive office fired back with its own news release stating response times had improved.

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