SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION) Two units within the Santa Cruz County Corrections Facilities are closing temporarily due to staffing shortages. The Sheriff's Office says this will ensure the safety of those incarcerated, and the safety of corrections staff.
The S Unit at the Rountree Facility in Watsonville and the Blaine Street Women's Facility will be closed for 6 to 12 months. Six people were housed in the Blaine Street facility, and 19 were housed in the S Unit. They will be moved to other facilities.
"This is a temporary change, but something that we felt is necessary to make right now to best serve everyone," said Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Ashley Keehn. "Just because we have a staffing shortage doesn't mean we're going to lower our standards for correctional officers."
The Sheriff's Office is looking to hire 10 new corrections officers. They also have 4 deputy positions open.
In the meantime, five patrol deputies will be moved to the Corrections Bureau. The Sheriff's Office says this isn't due to current funding issues, but a combination of different things.
"[With] Covid, we had to freeze hiring for essentially a year," said Keehn. "A handful of positions were lost during budget cuts last year. So that also took a toll on staffing. And additionally, the job market right now in essentially every job field, people are getting a lack of applicants."
They say this will not have an impact on response times in the community. With 117 deputies currently staffed, they say they have enough to fill the needed positions.
These measures will also help reduce the mandatory overtime that corrections staff has been working. The Sheriff's Office says corrections officers have had to work 12-hour shifts for 5 to 6 days a week.
Wednesday night the Pajaro Valley Unified School District is discussing whether to bring school resource officers back onto campuses after the deadly stabbing at Aptos High School. The Sheriff's Office says they also have enough staff to fill those spots if needed.