County board approves hiring two sheriff’s deputies

A San Benito County Sheriff enters the scene of where a body was found in March 2012.

The county board Tuesday agreed to fund two additional deputies following Sheriff Darren Thompson’s plea for more staffing.
The board unanimously OK’d funding two positions with $72,000 in funding to round out the fiscal year ending June 30. Thompson in December made a statement to supervisors stressing the steep decline in staffing from 96 to 47 sworn deputies since he started in early 2011.
Thompson vowed to come back in April or May to ask for funding to pay for two more deputies. Thompson hopes to have 12 additional deputies on staff in the coming years. The sheriff’s request called for the hiring of four new deputies at an annual cost of $490,000.
“We are unable to perform contemporary police work,” said Thompson, who has underscored there are just two deputies on duty at a time covering 1,400 square miles.
South county resident Paul Wattis agreed and asked supervisors to fund the new deputies.
“We don’t ask for a lot of services,” Wattis said. “We’re not getting our money’s worth down there.”
Supervisors said they would reexamine the possibility of hiring more deputies during budget hearings starting this spring.

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