Thursday Aug 05 2010
Sheriff’s not releasing names of deputies under investigation
By: Penne Usher Gold Country News Service
Officers can get up to 5 percent pay raise with higher degree
The El Dorado County Sheriff’s office is looking into allegations that five of its own uniformed officers used unaccredited education sources found on the Internet to qualify for higher pay. Former El Dorado County Sheriff candidate Stan Perez dropped out of the race earlier this year after his educational credentials were called into question, causing the department to scrutinize its entire force’s records, Sgt. Jim Byers said. Byers said Wednesday in a phone interview that he was not at liberty to disclose the names of the employees in question. “They have rights and there are policies in place that prohibit me from talking about the case,” he said. “I can’t release any more information than we already have.” Byers said he was not privileged to specifics of the investigation and did not have the names of the universities where the employees received their degrees. “As this is a personnel matter the names and ranks of the involved employees are not being released and further information will not be forthcoming pending the outcome of the investigation,” he said. Sworn officers can qualify for pay increases based on obtaining higher education degrees. “Deputies and sergeants receive a 2 percent pay increase for an A.A. and a total of a 5 percent increase for a B.A. or B.S.,” Byers said. Ranks of lieutenant and above receive only the 5 percent increase for a four-year degree and no education incentive for an associate’s degree. Dixie and David Finkel, both of Shingle Springs, said they found it hard to believe that an officer (let alone five) would knowingly misrepresent their education. “Maybe they didn’t know that their degrees were from an unaccredited school,” Dixie Finkel said. “I really don’t want to think that an officer of the law would intentionally do something like that for a few dollars.” Her husband agreed. “We have good officers up here,” David Finkel said. “It’ll surprise me if it turns out to be they did this on purpose.” The Human Resources division for the county sets the policy for what is and what is not considered an accredited institution, Byers said. “I can’t speak for Human Resources, but we will be reviewing our policy and procedures to see if anything needs to be changed,” Byers said. In February candidate Stan Perez dropped out of the race for El Dorado County Sheriff amid questions of his educational claims. Perez claimed in political literature that he attended La Salle University where he received a degree. He received educational incentive pay from the California Highway Patrol. La Salle University in Philadelphia had no record of his degree or enrollment. Perez’s schooling is relevant because he received advanced educational pay from the CHP. College credits were required for the pay raise.