After the recent SF County Jail lockdowns and complaints of severe staffing shortages, SF Sheriff Paul Miyamoto opens up about his office’s challenges, while the deputies’ union is demanding he calls in the National Guard.

Nearly two weeks ago, the SF County jails were placed on lockdown, amidst a reported nine deputies being attacked by prisoners over the last month. KGO reported last week that lockdown was lifted at one of SF facility last Wednesday, and the satellite facility in San Bruno reopened later last week.

But both lockdowns lasted longer than planned, which indicates things are running less-than-ideally at the county jails over which the sheriff’s office has jurisdiction. And an incident involving sheriff's deputies and an escaped inmate at Zuckerberg SF General Hospital earlier this week was used by the deputies' union to further emphasize staffing shortages.

San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto gave the above press conference after the lockdowns were announced, and said at the time, “This increase in attacks is not only the result of low staffing levels, but a lack of housing space, and more serious and violent offenders being housed in our jails who are in custody for long periods of time.” Meanwhile, the SF Deputy Sheriff's Association union is demanding that Miyamoto call in the National Guard to help at the understaffed jails.

It is in this context that Miyamoto gave an exclusive interview to KRON4 on Wednesday to explain his proposed solutions, as there is clearly tension between the sheriff and his deputies’ union.

“I think that the challenge for us in getting more people hired is because while we recruit and hire on a routine basis, our numbers haven’t been high in terms of people applying,” Miyamoto told the station. Indeed, law enforcement is becoming a less popular occupation of choice these days.

He also proposed getting more tasers and bodycams, telling KRON4 his office was woking “very hard to get body-worn cameras and tasers in our jails.” Miyamoto said that bodycams and tasers “are very effective tools in making sure response is appropriate and not harmful [to the deputies].”

The deputies’ union is arguing that excessive amounts of overtime work are affecting the deputies’ health and well-being. Though their argument that this is “akin to modern-day slavery” seems a stretch, and perhaps intentionally provocative. We’ve reported that the overtime the deputies rack up leaves many of them making hundreds of thousands of dollars extra per year, and the Chronicle reported overtime allowed one deputy to make $2.2 million last year. That’s not how slavery works, guys!

And this deputies’ union is given to bizarre social media tirades, it’s the same union that claimed that everyone would quit because of COVID vaccine mandates. Everyone did not quit, and the union may not accurately represent the feelings of the rank-and-file.

Miyamoto responds that “deputies are allowed to work as much overtime as they want voluntarily,” and insists no one is forced. “We don’t draft. We don’t involuntarily hold over people for more than two shifts per week.”

And the Chronicle makes an excellent point in their report about the recent charges brought against the deputies' attackers in the County Jail incidents. They have taken deputies out of County Jail to instead work on the Tenderloin drug crackdown. That move may have helped short-staff the department.

But Miyamoto continues to reject calls for the National Guard. “I have absolute confidence that, although short-staffed, we are able to deal with the issues that arise in the jails without the need for the National Guard to come in,” he told KRON4.

Related: Two SF County Jails on Lockdown Amidst Reported Rash of Attacks on Deputies [SFNews]

Image: @SheriffSF via Twitter