Countywide : Board to Consider Marshal's Office Plan

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider a sizable staff reorganization in the county marshal's office that officials say will save the county $834,000 each year.

The marshal's office--which handles security in the county's courtrooms and serves warrants and evictions--drafted the plan, which would eliminate nine jobs while reshuffling a dozen others.

While the plan falls in line with the county's belt-tightening effort, Marshal Michael S. Carona said the changes were driven by a need to streamline an agency that has grappled with efficiency problems.

"The Reader's Digest version of this is that we wanted to reduce management positions and put more people on the front line," Carona said. There's "not a whole lot of magic to it; it's just, I like to think, good government."

A county administrative office study in 1986 said the marshal's office was mismanaged and understaffed, an assessment Carona said he found true when he took over the department in 1987. Some changes were made, but an outside consultant was hired in 1992 to recommend more.

"It just seemed to us there was a better way to do business," said Carona, whose department has 456 employees, 361 of them peace officers.

The plan before the supervisors would delete four of the 13 court services officers assigned to security at the county Superior Court and Municipal Court in Santa Ana.

Those four positions will become expendable when a new electronic security system is installed at the courthouse, administrative manager Gloria Gunton said.

The marshal's office, freed up by a new Department of Motor Vehicles procedure that holds driver's licenses when defendants fail to appear for certain traffic offenses, would also scale back its number of civilian process servers by five. Two clerks would also be cut because of the paperwork reduction, Gunton said.

Some shifting of duties is also included in the plan, such as putting court services officers, who are paid less and trained less than full-fledged peace officers, on bailiff duty in civil courtrooms. Two administrative posts will also be filled by a civilian and a lower-ranking officer to trim salary costs.

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