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Independent group says sheriff's office needs 40 hires, 721-bed jail facility in order to meet 2035 population projections

PMG FILE PHOTO - Two Clackamas County Sheriff's Office patrol vehicles are shown here. An independent report into Clackamas County Sheriff's Office staffing levels released this week found that CCSO is in need of a new, 721-bed jail facility in order to meet population projections for 2035, as well as a total of 40 additional positions — 17 at the jail, eight in investigations and six in patrol and nine non-sworn positions.

To inform staffing priorities, the study was conducted over a nine-month period beginning in early 2021 by the Matrix Consulting Group, examining deputy workloads, service levels and more across the organization, focusing primarily on jail, patrol and investigations divisions, according to CCSO authorities.

Per Matrix's findings regarding capacity at the Clackamas County Jail, which currently holds a maximum capacity of 491, according to Captain Lee Eby, capacity for 230 more people should be added for a total of 721 to accommodate projected population numbers by 2035. By 2025, Eby said, Matrix recommends that CCSO has enough capacity to accommodate 658.

The study based these projections on 10 years of data regarding the jail's average daily population, which Eby said was roughly between 490 to 500 people in 2019. This amount is projected by Matrix to rise to approximately 600 by 2035.

Overcrowding, which Eby said remains an ongoing issue, requires the jail to periodically conduct "forced releases," which, under federal guidelines, take place once the jail has exceeded 90% capacity and involve a designated deputy creating a list of eligible inmates who do not pose a danger to the community for early release. This list is subsequently reviewed by booking office specialists and the police sergeant.

The office will soon see a funding boost from a voter-approved 12-cent tax increase to fund sheriff patrols, collection of which will begin in November.

Sheriff Angela Brandenburg said that this increase will buy the office a total of 29 new positions, 16 of which will be added to patrol to raise the staffing benchmarks in the office's jurisdictions, particularly in unincorporated areas.COURTESY PHOTO: CCSO - A Clackamas County Jail inmate gets a temperature reading from medical staff.

For each of the three jurisdictions that CCSO serves, including unincorporated areas, Happy Valley and Wilsonville, Matrix calculated the "proactivity level," or the percentage of time deputies were on patrol but not responding to a service call.

The sheriff's office reported that the net number of work hours available per deputy annually to respond to service calls is 1,403. In 2019, authorities say, deputies completed a total of 51,442 workload hours in unincorporated areas of Clackamas County, a total of 4,448 workload hours in Happy Valley and a total of 6,256 workload hours in Wilsonville.

In unincorporated areas, the study shows that deputies on patrol were not responding to service calls for roughly 39% of their shift, while deputies on patrol in Happy Valley had a proactivity level of about 71% and deputies in Wilsonville had an approximately 70% proactivity level.

Brandenburg said that the reason for the discrepancy in proactivity level between unincorporated areas and contract cities was due to Happy Valley and Wilsonville allocating funding to hire more deputies.

Matrix calculated that CCSO should aim for at least a 40% productivity level as its benchmark for patrol coverage in both unincorporated areas and contract cities, Brandenburg said, adding that the analysis recommended the office have 67 units out on patrol at a given time to remain at that level.

Brandenburg said the office currently has 70 deputies authorized for patrol, with 63 generally deployed at a given time. She said the tax increase will bring "some relief" in this by allowing CCSO to add 16 full-time patrol which she said will bring the office up to a authorized patrol staffing of 86.

"We have 26 sworn (deputies) that are coming in with the 12-cent increase and three non-sworn positions," she said. "16 of those will be going to patrol, because, for me, I'm not satisfied with a 40%, that to me is treading water."

Commissioner Paul Savas asked for further clarification on the methodology for financing service levels across CCSO jurisdictions, including the Enhanced Law Enforcement District, to make sure that each one gets the "same bang for their buck."

Brandenburg told commissioners that by the time they meet to adopt the fiscal year 2022-23 budget, she will have developed a report with further data including answers to Chair Tootie Smith's questions about training costs per deputy, price to equip each deputy and how much of that equipment cost the deputy is responsible for.

View the full CCSO staffing study here.

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