When a sheriff’s department as small as Carson City’s loses an active duty officer as it recently did, that agency needs to have a contingency plan to deal with such a significant loss. Officials with the department said while it’s difficult, they can deal with the loss of an officer.
Recently, the department lost one deputy to an Achilles injury while responding to a child endangerment call in the 400 block of South Saliman Road on May 24. Deputies were dispatched to the area after receiving calls of a man allegedly threatening to throw his infant into a swimming pool. The suspect, David Torres, tried to block himself in a nearby apartment and deputies heard women screaming from inside the residence. Thinking someone was in danger, Deputy Bob Guimont attempted to kick in the door and blew out his Achilles tendon, said Sgt. Earl Mays. Torres escaped the residence by climbing out a window and led Mays and other deputies on a chase down 5th Street, where deputies apprehending him after tazing and striking Torres with a baton.
Guimont’s injury will cause him to be out of duty for a year.
Guimont’s injury leave is complicated by the fact that the department is also down another officer for a year due to sergeant getting a stint put into his heart after a heart attack. Because of that, they already had to backfill a deputy from the swing shift to fill in the sergeant’s position, which is leaving them down two officers on their front line, Sheriff Ken Furlong said.
“In this organization, we have pushed away from the idea if you are an officer then you need to be an officer, and if you aren’t in a role with arrest powers, we don’t need you,” Furlong said. “We have positions that we can put people in where they can still be an advantage to us.”
Furlong said that at the moment they aren’t yet thinking about what they will do with Deputy Guimont when he comes back to work, they are just worrying about the fact that they will be down an officer because his injury has resulted in difficulties with manning power for the department for the next year.
“Its hard to (determine how big a problem it is) because it depends on my manning,” said Mays. Mays is the supervisor for the swing shift deputies. “If one of my guys goes down, and I have enough men to cover my shift, it’s a loss but its not a huge thing because I have people to cover my shift.”
There are a total of 92 deputies with the Carson City Sheriff’s Department, including the sheriff, sergeants and detectives. Each shift there is a minimum of five deputies on patrol.
With an incident like this, problems arose immediately for Mays. Because Guimont was being transported to the hospital, and a second deputy was riding with Torres to the hospital, the two deputies cars’ were left for Mays to try to get back to the station.
“I didn’t have enough manning (at the scene) and we were shuffling cars because we had one at the hospital, so his car is still on scene and another deputy had to ride in the ambulance with the bad guy, so her car is on scene,” Mays said. “We can’t just leave our cars on scene because there are weapons and stuff so we are shuffling cars and now we have three people for the whole city.”
Though Mays was lucky and was able to call in an extra deputy that night, he is now facing difficulties trying to fill in Guimont’s shifts for the rest of the year while he is out.
“For the long run we are short handed a body for the entire year until he can come back,” Mays said. “It will have an impact but the way the manning is, we have six to seven guys on every shift so minimum is five for the shift and granted, if no one takes time off, if no one calls in sick, nobody is in training, but having one less body it can be pretty detrimental for us.”
The short staffing will be most difficult on the other deputies who will have to work more hours to make up the missing manpower during swing shift.
“It is more of a strain on the deputies than it is on myself, other than the stress of trying to fill in the gaps (for his shift),” Mays said. “The deputies on the other hand will have to work overtime to try to fill in that gap and cover his shift.”
This is also difficult on the department’s budget because they only have a certain amount of money to pay deputies for overtime, and by providing overtime funds to fill in Guimont’s shift, it may take away opportunities to have deputies work things like special events.
“It is like a domino effect, because he is out for the year, there is the possibility of overtime which eats the budget and maybe if we have a special event, then we can’t hire one more person for that event because of the budget,” Mays said.
When an officer is injured on duty, they get paid worker’s compensation with benefits depending on how long the officer’s injury is expected to heal, and if they need to stay home past that, they are paid from a combination of the worker’s compensation and sick leave. After they have healed, while waiting on things such as physical therapy, the deputy is assigned on light duty which can include things such as running the front desk or working in the jail.
Though injuries can set back the department, Furlong said that they aren’t uncommon, they will see an injury about every three to four months, just not always this severe. The last major injury was when Deputy Josh Stagliano was shot in the wrist in 2005.