SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - San Francisco's sheriff Vicki Hennessy is ordering mandatory overtime for her 840 deputies due to low staffing levels.
Deputies handle security for City Hall, the courts and SF General Hospital. Mainly they oversee the county's four jails.
In recent years the jail population has declined, to the tune of 1,000 beds, so why the need for forced OT?
"It's a problem of where we still haven't caught up," said Sheriff Hennessy. With no hiring done during former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's term, Hennessy had 91 spots to fill when she took office last January.
In a memo dated May 19, she explains "The emergency created by the extreme staffing shortage." To help solve the problem, Hennessy is implementing "fair share overtime" over the next three months.
"That means spreading the pain across the board basically and getting people to work at least one eight-hour shift on one of their regular days off," said Hennessy.
It's a plan that isn't sitting well with some deputies who are already doing an extra 12-16 hours per pay period.
"That's a 60-hour a pay period of overtime, plus you want to take away one of days off in order to fulfill that.
Well, our concern is there's an officer safety issue. They also have families and they have children; when are they supposed to rest?" asked Eugene Cerbone, President of the SF Deputy Sheriffs' Association.
Right now there are 94 vacancies according to Hennessy; half of those will be soon be filled by people going through the academy, but with dozens of deputies retiring and leaving, they simply can't plug the open positions fast enough.
At full staff, the department would have 915 deputies. Last year, Hennessy said she hired 72 sworn people but had 49 people who left the department.
"We understand that we do have a staffing issue but we've had it for quite a while," said Cerbone, who told KTVU that he doesn't know why staffing levels are now being considered an emergency.
According to the Transparent California website, several deputies made enormous amounts of overtime last year.
Three deputies in particular, who all have an annual base pay of roughly $102,000, made more than $189,000 a year in just overtime.
In overtime pay alone, Deputy Kristian Dejesus earned $189,300.14, Deputy Barry Bloom earned $234,577.60 and Deputy Antonio Santiago... a whopping $268,942.15. Sheriff Hennessy confirmed that those salaries were accurate.
"It seems like a lot, I agree. They are all making more than me, I can assure you, but when I look at it.... I think what's important for the viewers to understand, it's not costing the city any more money, it's not costing the taxpayers any more money," said Hennessy. "Now these people are choosing to work this and frankly, they're being held accountable at work."
Hennessy agreed that Santiago was most likely working every day, often 16 hour shifts and that last year he surpassed the 1500 hour overtime threshold.
"We've done a little audit to doublecheck [his overtime] and the other thing, that some of this overtime pay's in holiday pay overtime which is a little more expensive. But I will say that, yeah, he's working pretty much working every day and days off or at least two shifts every as regular shift in an overtime shift, that's the way it appears to us," said Hennessy.
The union defends Santiago.
"It's different when deputies can set up their own overtime and preparer for it and plan for it than when you're all of a sudden told oh you gotta work you may not be prepared," said Cerbone.
Hennessy said she will continue to work with the mayor's office and the deputies union to iron out a solution but she doesn't foresee adequate staffing levels for at least two years.
In the current fiscal year 2016-17, the department budgeted for $12 million, but it overspent and overtime reached a total of $23 million, which is 22 percent higher than the previous fiscal year's overtime cost of $19 million.
Hennessy admitted that the SFDSA has filed a number of complaints in the past year because of the overtime issue.
Cerbone contended that the Sheriff's Department did not include him in bargaining talks and that the union will be fighting the "fair share overtime" policy.