Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

With six positions at the Sheriffs Department now frozen to help Del Norte Countys budget, service wont get better any time soon.

It means were going to have the status quo. We were going to implement the beat system for the outlying areas, but now we just cant do that, said Del Norte County Sheriff Jim Maready yesterday.

The decision to totally eliminate two positions and freeze hiring for four, came Tuesday at the countys board meeting.

One deputy sheriff, one evidence property clerk, one sergeant and one sheriffs clerk are the four positions that wont be filled until after the budget crunch is over.

The positions of senior correctional officer and a level-II/III detective were also open and budgeted for, but will now be completely eliminated.

No one will be laid off in this process, because so many Sheriffs Department positions were vacant.

According to Maready, the cuts mean current deputies and other staff will have more to do a problem he thought would be solved this year.

Last September, the department was awarded a $500,000 grant to hire four new deputies. Maready planned to start a beat system to provide Gasquet, Smith River, Klamath and Hiouchi with 24-hour police protection.

At that time, the countys budget crisis had not come to light and Maready thought he could not only gain four new deputies with the grant, but fill the four positions he had open. Now that wont happen and theres no telling when funds will be available to restore the positions.

The sheriffs office is one of the biggest spenders in the countys budget.

Completely eliminating the correctional officer and detective positions will save the county from budgeting for them in the next fiscal year.

The choice of those positions was decided on by a committee of the sheriff, county administrative officer, Jeannine Galatioto, county auditor, Christie Babich, and head of personnel, Kathy Reese.

Weve met and have come to the conclusion that these two positions would have the least impact on the department, Galatioto said.

Maready said the captains position will take on the lost detective's position duties, and other staff in the booking area can take on the lost correctional officer position duties.

We can compensate for them, but its going to affect the community one way or another, he said.