10:00 PM PDT on Friday, July 30, 2010

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies will begin working 12-hour shifts this weekend, a change made to help the department close a budget deficit.

The measures are aimed at spreading around resources and reducing overtime, sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Phelps said.

Instead of four 10-hour shifts each week, deputies will work three 12-hour shifts a week plus one 8-hour shift every other week.

The scheduling change allows the department to transfer 47 deputies to its four jails and about 50 deputies assigned to outlying areas to patrol.

The department will maintain the same level of staffing while reducing the number of overlapping shifts, Phelps said.

Adding more deputies to the jail staff will help reduce overtime at the four detention centers, where mandated deputy-to-prisoner staffing ratios often had led to increased overtime payments.

Last month, Sheriff Rod Hoops announced that the department would have to take some painful cost-cutting moves in order to close a $23 million budget deficit.

The department already had faced an $11 million budget deficit due to declining sales and property taxes.

However, when the union representing sheriff’s deputies refused to give up previously negotiated raises, the department’s deficit increased to $23 million.

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