Staffing review irks sheriff
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy shot down concerns raised by an public safety expert hired by commissioners about a staffing and efficiency study of the Sheriff’s Office.
In a study done by Lafayette-based Voorhis Associates, consultants recommended more staff and some technology upgrades for the Sheriff’s Office, echoing some concerns Hoy said he has made for several years.
However, unbeknownst to Hoy, commissioners and county staff asked for a second opinion on the study from California-based consultants Joseph Brann and Associates, a move the sheriff said blindsided him.
“I was very surprised at finding out about it,” Hoy said. “I had no idea about a second consultant.”
Brann criticized the results of the study, saying that the officer per 1,000 residents formula that Voorhis used to come up with their numbers is misleading ” more officers do not necessarily mean a safer county, he said.
Also, the study falls short because it does not compare Eagle County’s Sheriff Office with similar and surrounding counties, Brann wrote in his observations about the study.
Hoy said he won’t put stock in the consultant’s opinions because he feels the county just wanted to poke holes in the Voorhis study.
“It’s bogus,” Hoy said of Brann’s review. “You can put your own spin on any kind of study. I think the commissioners didn’t like what they heard from the study, because it validates some of the things we’ve been saying the past few years, and they want someone to cut down Voorhis.”
The dispute over the study stems from almost a year of discussion about the Sheriff’s Office budget and scheduling. Last year commissioners questioned the efficiency of the department’s operations and asked Hoy to cut some costs, especially in the office’s sizable overtime pay.
Commissioners have been meeting with Hoy in an effort to resolve the problems before the county starts planning next year’s budget.
“This has changed things,” Hoy said. “That’s all I’ll say for now.”
Hoy raised many of his own questions about the second consultant.
“Why did they go all the way to California? Did he spend any time in the county? Is there a connection between the consultant and the county administration?” Hoy said. “I’m dismissing this other (review) because he’s never even stepped foot in the county.”
Commissioners said they simply asked Brann, a former police chief and director in the U.S. Department of Justice, to give a “cursory review” of the Voorhis study.
Brann’s company has done consulting for various law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, Denver, and the California Department of Justice.
Commissioners said they still want to work on the budget with Hoy but thought the review raised worthy questions.
Voorhis Associates was hired by the county in December 2007 for $35,000. The county also looked at several other consultants, including the National Sheriff’s Association, which was charging about $90,000.
“When the commissioners wanted a study to evaluate our organization and staffing, I thought it was great. I’m always looking for ways to make us more efficient,” Hoy said.
Voorhis was chosen because it was a Colorado-based company, had done work with different organizations around the state, and had a personal recommendation from county staff, Hoy said.
The study also suggested ways the department could be more efficient. A top recommendation was to update technology and use online systems that will save manpower and time. It also recommended reorganizing officers and other employees in shifts and locations that reflected the busiest time and call areas, as opposed to evenly spreading staff across the county at all hours.
Hoy said the Sheriff’s Office was working toward a plan to implement some of the recommendations, especially the technology part.
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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