Fresno County Sheriff wants to lure deputies while DA needs help with public administrators probe

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims told the Board of Supervisors it's tough to fill the 28 open deputy positions, because of low pay and reduced retirement benefits.

Sheriff Mims explained, "In all categories our salaries were well below other agencies in other counties."

The sheriff noted that while the county hired 38 deputies in the past year, 34 others quit or retired. She welcomed the supervisor's suggestion of offering signing bonuses of at least $5,000 to attract new recruits.

Sheriff Mims added, "I'm gratified to hear we are open to discussing the signing bonuses I think that will help us not only recruit but retain qualified applicants."

District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp told the board she needs to add six employees to the scandal-plagued Public Administrators office, because the whole operation needs to be changed.

Smittcamp explained, "This is a department that is ripe for the opportunity for unethical and immoral people to steal."

In fact three of the four employees of the public administrators office are suspected of stealing property from the estates of dead people. It was their job to protect those assets. But Smittcamp told the board she can't prosecute the suspects because they are her employees. She said the board should not have moved the Public Administrators office to the District Attorney's office in the first place.

Smittcamp told the board, "Because now I think here in Fresno we can see the inherent issues of conflict of interest that can arise very quickly."

Because of the conflict Smittcamp says she's asked the state Attorney General to take over the case. Supervisor Henry Perea said because of the potential conflicts he suggested the board revisit the decisions they made last year putting the Public Administrator under the DA and the Coroner under the Sheriff.

The board will consider Smittcamp's request for more personnel and Mim's request for signing bonuses at a meeting next month.

Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.