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Doa Ana County Sheriff’s Deputies Angry Over ‘Unsaid Quota’

Doa Ana County Sheriff’s Deputies says they’re being punished for not making enough arrests and the union has filed a complaint with the county’s board of commissioners.

Last year, Sheriff Todd Garrison implemented the Performance Improvement Program, or PIP, to help rehabilitate officers that were falling behind in productivity. Sheriff’s spokesman Jess Williams said the program was put in place to help the department retain officers they’ve recruited.

“The program is a holistic program,” Williams told ABC-7. “It’s county-wide. We want the very best performance in the field possible.”

Sgt. Samuel Ramos said deputies who are placed on this disciplinary program are asked to improve their performance in the field by raising the number of arrests, traffic citations and reports they make. But Ramos said the officers are never given a specific goal.

“It’s always work harder, and you’ll be fine,” Ramos said. “When in reality, deputies being put on the PIP are being extended on the PIP because they haven’t met performance standards that have not been told to us and not defined.”

Former Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Montes was fired after several months of being on the PIP. Montes said after three months in the program, his numbers in all three categories had improved. However, the department’s evaluation determined Montes had not improved enough, and his time in the program was extended another three months.

“When we asked how much more we should increase the numbers, like in the arrests,” Montes said. “How can we make more arrests? There has to be a lawful reason for the arrests. They couldn’t answer that. They just said make more arrests.”

Williams said there is no quota that officers must meet. They just have to meet a standard set by Garrison to improve public safety in the county.

“It’s up to the sheriff and his administrators to set policies and to supervise and guide their deputies in the direction they want them to go, but the ultimate goal is a safe community,” Williams said.

Ramos disagrees.

“In our opinion, we believe there is a number that administration and that sheriff have as far as how many citation, how many arrests, how many reports a deputy should make in a month period, but they don’t tell us that for obvious reasons,” Ramos said.

As part of the PIP, officers are required to file reports of their activities every fifteen minutes. Montes said it feels like a harsh punishment for something he can’t understand doing wrong.

Ramos is also the President of the Sheriff’s Union. The union filed a complaint with the board of county commissioners concerning the PIP. In the complaint, they state the program is a violation of their contract with the sheriff’s department.

“If we’re going to make improvements and have deputies work on their job performance, then give us specific goals, specific aspirations, so we can meet them and even pass them,” Ramos said.

In a hearing Monday, the board dismissed the union’s complaint stating it had a lack of standing and listed the wrong complainant.

Ramos said he and other union members are going to discuss future options with their attorney and will consider refiling the complaint.

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