Sacramento County sheriff prepares for deep cut

Despite good relations in the past, Roger Berkenpas is feeling distant from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department these days.

Crime data he usually pulls from the sheriff's Web site for his west Fair Oaks neighborhood newsletters is weeks old. Monthly meetings with sheriff's representatives have been canceled, and his area's "POP" deputies have been reassigned to the airport after Sheriff John McGinness disbanded the "Problem Oriented Policing" program to save money.

And with just five patrol cars – instead of the normal 19 or so – expected north of the American River at any given time after Aug. 1, Berkenpas, 66, communications director for the West Fair Oaks Neighborhood Watch Association, said he doesn't expect to see much law enforcement presence where he lives.

We've lost our connection between the Sheriff's Department and our neighborhood, we feel," he said.

That feeling is likely to spread next month, when 202 sworn deputies and 40 non-sworn employees lose their jobs – the fallout from $57 million in cuts to the sheriff's $130 million discretionary budget.

Also out the door will be 428 "on-call" deputies, typically retired annuitants or recent academy graduates who haven't been hired full time, who have staffed areas such as the jails and Sheriff's Work Project. For the most part, those positions will disappear rather than be filled with deputies, sheriff's officials said.

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