Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco called it a great day for the Sheriff’s Department and a great day for the Sheriff’s Corrections Division.
The Sheriff delivered the remarks in front of family members and friends of 23 newly sworn Correctional Deputies – the first group of Riverside County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) Correctional Deputies in the agency’s history.
A step up from being a Correctional Deputy, a sworn Correctional Deputy can carry a firearm while on duty.
The newly sworn Correctional Deputies had just completed a two-week training course in addition to the three-month basic Correctional academy. During the two-week course they were trained in the use firearms and other weapons, learned weapons control and retention techniques and received scenario- based training related to firearms and case law.
“I’m unbelievably proud of what they’ve done and what they’ve accomplished in their careers,” Bianco said of the newly sworn Correctional Deputies. “As far as our department and where Corrections is going, I think this is opening up not only more career advancement opportunities for Corrections but a different perspective on the entire Corrections Division.”
Previously, Corrections Deputies received some arrest and control training but no firearms training because, unlike sworn Deputies, the Corrections Deputies had not received firearms training, RCSD Chief of Corrections Ed Delgado said.
RCSD’s five Correctional facilities currently houses a total of 3,700 inmates who are managed by 835 Correctional staff members plus 450 sworn Deputies.
The plan is to increase the percentage Correctional Deputies to nearly 100 percent, Delgado said.
“We look to put in about 180 (Correctional Deputies) per year until we get to a point where most of the Deputy Sheriffs are out on patrol and we can handle most of the necessary armed positions in the jails,” he said.
Throughout his 22 years with the Department, there had been talk of staffing the jails with sworn Correctional Deputies but there was never any follow through, Delgado said.
In 2011, Delgado conducted a comprehensive study on the feasibility of arming Correctional Deputies “to professionalize the Corrections Division and to get the sworn Deputies out of the jail to patrol our streets.”
Of the 57 other counties in the state, those whose jails were managed by sworn Correctional Deputies gave positive feedback, Delgado said.
“The agencies that did have (armed) Correctional Deputies, had nothing but great things to say about the program,” Delgado said. “Sheriff Bianco came in and knew it was time to do it because he saw the evolution of the quality of the staff in the Corrections Division … “It took a courageous leader to come into this department and do what he is doing and give us the tools we need to do to do our job. We are hired to do a job … care, custody and control of inmates. Now we have the ability to do that.”
Bianco acknowledged that the RCSD increasing the use of Correctional Deputies in jails will be intensely scrutinized by some who are intent on finding mistakes in the practice.
“I know it’s not a mistake,” the Sheriff said. “I know that all of you know this is not a mistake. This is exactly where we are supposed to be. This is exactly where we are supposed to be going.”
Deputy Bill Young, president of the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, said staffing jails with sworn Correctional Deputies has been “a long time coming” and sees the move as a cost saving measure for the Department and County, which will help with the ongoing budget issues within Riverside County.
“These guys are already there,” Young said. “We can train them. It adds resources for major emergencies and it falls within the law. We’ve got a leader in charge now that is forward thinking and wants to better the Department and not afraid to try new things … and he did and this is historic.”