Sheriff's promotions questioned by deputy group

FRESNO, Calif.

Monday's decision to promote two people within her department is one that Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims stands by. But, in a sharply worded letter, Fresno Deputy Sheriff Association president, Eric Schmidt, disapproved of the decision.

The Association says recent cutbacks have left fewer deputies on the streets.

The letter states, "With fewer deputies, we should have less command staff."

Schmidt tells Action News, "There is no effort to hire more deputy sheriffs behind them. We haven't a single deputy since February of 2008." He adds, "We are starting to struggle, the line of staff deputies is starting to struggle."

Sheriff Mims says the Association letter has not fazed her decision. She says, "It's important the unions do not run the Sheriff's Office."

Schmidt says slimmer staff and a low morale could affect the department's service.

Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea tells Action News the disagreement shifts the focus away from the real issue: the budget gap.

Perea says, "My main concern is do we have enough money in that department to meet all the budgetary constraints that we have right now? I think we have a 4 to 7 million deficit in that department and we need to be talking about how we need to reduce it."

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