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Santa Cruz County Sheriff talks benefits of hiring local and biggest challenge to keep deputies

Posted at 10:19 PM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-28 00:19:22-05

About 90% of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department staff is Hispanic and mostly all bilingual, according to Sheriff Tony Estrada.

"When we do, we select the very best," Sheriff Estrada said. "They are bilingual, bicultural, they are usually from the community and are raised here and we are very fortunate to have that combination."

Santa Cruz County is about 80% Hispanic, according to statistics from the 2016 United States Census Bureau.

Sheriff Estrada says it's an advantage when his staff was raised in the community because they are able to understand the language and culture. 

"It goes a long way to solving issues and solving problems and having the community get in with law enforcement," he said.

But keeping them in the department is a challenge he added.

Sheriff Estrada has been in law enforcement for nearly 50 years. He says his deputies get a long list of qualifications making them very marketable so after a couple years, they leave for a higher paying job.  

"Right now border patrol is going to open thousands of jobs what are they looking for? They are looking for bilingual people," he said.

The base salary is about $40,000 and in the future Sheriff Estrada hopes to increase that.

This week the sheriff says he hired two more deputies and plans to hire one more making the department at full staff in the New Year.