Los Angeles County officials have opened an emergency operations center to prepare for another round of wildcat strikes by sheriffs’ deputies expected today. The Los Angeles Times reports that hundreds of deputies have called in sick over the last three weeks, protesting stalled labor talks. Sheriff Lee Baca has threatened suspend deputies who participate.
The Los Angeles Police Department will send officers to patrol areas normally handled by deputies, and to help moving jail inmates to the 40 courthouses in the county.
The deputies’ union wants 3 percent raises for each of the next three years. County officials respond that there is not enough money. Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said that “to enter into multiyear contracts which commit us to ongoing expenditures that we don’t know that we can sustain would be fiscally irresponsible in the extreme, and that’s what we’re facing.” A pay survey in 26 police and county sheriff’s departments statewide found Los Angeles County ranked 12th.
In the meantime, judges, clerks and court reporters have been staying into the evening, starting preliminary hearings as late as 8 p.m. “It has created a backlog of cases that the court is going to have to deal with,” said Superior Court Judge David S. Wesley.