County officials who asked Sheriff Pat Hedges to justify his department’s use of county vehicles say they haven’t heard back from him. And they’re probably not going to.
In response to a report by the SLO County Grand Jury, county administrators asked departments to provide a “brief justification” for vehicles employees are allowed to take home. It wasn’t mandatory—all departments named in the report have to respond to the grand jury presiding judge by Aug. 3—but the administrative office and board of supervisors asked for a cost-benefit analysis of the vehicles.
The District Attorney’s and sheriff’s offices use the most take-home vehicles. When asked by the county, the DA’s office gave its response but there has been no word from the sheriff. County officials noted the lack of a response in a staff report. Supervisor Adam Hill underscored his “disappointment” with the sheriff at the July 21 board of supervisors meeting.
Speaking with New Times afterward, he said, “I think people have made it pretty clear that they want more accountability from their government. And that goes for every department, not just the sheriff.”
When asked for a response, department spokesman Rob Bryn said, “The report to the board on the take-home cars is not due until Aug. 3. No idea what the confusion is.”
Interim County Administrator Jim Grant said because the sheriff and DA are more independent than other departments, the county wanted to see the information before making its own response to the grand jury: “So we’re just trying to put together a report that meshes, basically.”
In their review of take-home vehicles, grand jurors reported that vehicle commuting to employees’ homes cost more than $1 million per year. County officials refuted that number as too high and said the actual cost is closer to $596,000, according to a staff report.