BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Jail has been understaffed for months, compounded by recent investigations. Sgt. Paul Navarro was put on leave in early May, as part of an internal investigation; he was fired last week. Jail Commander Captain Deron McMaster says another Corrections Sergeant is now on paid administrative leave, also for an investigation into possible policy violations, although he would not elaborate. "With Sgt. Navarro, he has another step in due process that is still forthcoming," Capt. McMaster tells KBND News, "And then, the other one is still under investigation."
McMaster admits staffing has been a struggle. "Obviously, those are key positions and we’d like to have all those positions filled. We’ve promoted a Sergeant and we’ve also promoted a couple of Lieutenants. So, we’re filling those key positions, not to mention there’s always a cascading effect when you lose a person; especially anyone who’s a Sergeant or Lieutenant, which creates an opening for a Deputy Sheriff." But, he says disciplinary action is necessary, "We, as a command staff and obviously the Sheriff is the leader of our command staff, we’re holding people accountable. When we learn of policy violations, we want to deal with them; we don’t want to just ignore problems. Part of this is because we’ve really tried to improve things over in the Corrections Division, and as an organization as a whole, we want to be a good, healthy, productive organization."
The division has also seen high turnover in the past year, from a combination of retirements, promotions and deputies seeking opportunities elsewhere. However, after struggling with 20 openings earlier this year, Capt. McMaster says things are improving. He's hired 10 new deputies in the last six months, and extended offers to four more this week. McMaster admits, that's a lot of rookies at once. "We actually have a few of them who are laterals from either police jobs or from other correctional facilities, so that helps out. But, you know what? It’s really exciting to hire brand new people into the field of law enforcement. What I think I can stress the most is, we’re looking for good people more than we are anything else." He says character is more important than experience.
Despite the hiring push, six vacancies remain, which Capt. McMaster acknowledges places a strain on those in those in the Corrections Division as the agency works to ensure the jail is appropriately staffed on a daily basis. "We’ve asked our supervisors to step in and fill some roles, as well. We have Patrol Deputies that have stepped up and come in and fill shifts; we have Corrections Deputies that are taking overtime shifts and coming in and working."