The Desert IndependentTM
Serving Blythe and the Desert Regions of the Southwest Since 2001
Sheriff to use surplus funds to reduce CCW backlog
April 27, 2018
RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif – Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff has directed staff to utilize some surplus funds that have recently freed up before the end of the current fiscal year to hire additional trained part-time staffing from available retirees to temporarily increase the size of the Department’s Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) unit, to dramatically reduce the large backlog in demand for CCW issuance.
The current backlog, due to overwhelming demand that hit just as sharp budget reductions began shrinking staff resources, has resulted in a 2-year wait simply to undergo the processing point for a CCW, with the actual processing time still only running the normal 30-60 days.
The Sheriff’s CCW unit consists of three full-time staff and two part-time staff. The current use of freed-up surplus funds is planned to at least double the size of the unit to dramatically reduce the backlog. A portion of these end-of-year surplus funds will be utilized to temporarily hire 6 retirees to help ease the current backlog of CCW applicants. The Sheriff, a long supporter of CCW issuance and a Second Amendment advocate for decades, worked closely with both the National Rifle Association (NRA) and California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) staff in working through this backlog issue, while still responsibly keeping within his assigned budget.
CCWs are issued pursuant to California statutes for both “good cause and good moral character” by either California county Sheriffs to any county resident, or by local city police chiefs to their own city residents. Few city police chiefs issue CCWs to their residents for fear of diverting precious staff resources. The few police departments that do so in Riverside County add in additional hurdles with much higher fees and other requirements, such as psychological testing that act as an impediment for many. Although local city police departments collectively serve roughly 1 million of our Riverside County population, the Sheriff’s Department currently faces the huge demand from all 2.4 million residents, even as department funding and staffing has been sharply reduced over the past 2 ½ years. In large part, the huge overwhelming demand is due to the Sheriff’s Department dealing with CCW requests from all 2.4 million residents, and not simply those it is responsible for policing (1.4 million). Worse, the CCW fees that can be charged are capped by California statutes, and are not adequate for full cost recovery – tough to do when the department must attrit staff positions each year after facing successive budget cuts and starts with red ink at each new fiscal year.
CCWs are not required to purchase or own a firearm in California, but are legally required if a handgun – loaded or unloaded – is carried concealed into our public areas: driving on our roads, going to the market, sports events, or other areas open to the public. The Sheriff has long encouraged CCW issuance to responsible residents of Riverside County, and the Sheriff’s Department continues to exercise “due diligence” and carefully screens every applicant before issuance of CCW permits. Prior to the December 2015 Inland Empire terrorist incident, the Sheriff’s Department typically took 60-90 days to process CCWs, but then faced overwhelming demand after that incident. This demand has continued to dramatically increase with each new mass shooting in the news. A decade ago, CCWs issued by the department totaled roughly 500. Currently, the number of active 2-year permits are nearly 3,300 and sets a new record in numbers issued each year.
The Sheriff’s Department, like other county public safety departments, has faced deep and damaging funding cuts, now exceeding $72 million in just the past two years, that has necessarily resulted in steep reductions in staffing throughout its countywide 24/7 frontline operations. This has caused fewer deputies handling calls for service in our county unincorporated areas, with reduced participation on key regional teams and task forces, as well as a lack of staffing required to open the new jail being completed in Indio later this year.
Additional budget cuts are anticipated this next fiscal year, but the Sheriff was able to rebalance his budget this current year again through managed staff attrition, frugal management of the department while managing the impact of the County’s hiring freeze, identifying freed up surplus funds in the 4th budget quarter and before the June 30th year-end.
The Sheriff’s Department has now lost 15%+ of its end-strength across its many operations and is now a smaller department than it was a decade ago, even though the County has continued to grow. Post-AB 109 Realignment responsibilities have grown and the Department has faced many forced choices in continuing to make due with its annual budget allocations, after the Sheriff makes the argument on what is really needed. Once the Board makes the decision on funding levels, the Sheriff’s management team executes that approved budget guidance, and do the best we possibly can with the resources allocated.
Information on the CCW application process are contained at our website, www.riversidesheriff.org under “Firearms”.
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