The Colusa County Sheriff’s Office welcomed Luis Ruiz to their ranks during a swearing-in ceremony on Dec. 3. Ruiz joins the department as a deputy sheriff after a three year stint with the Colusa Police Department, where he was hired as an officer on Dec. 17, 2015.
Prior to his time at the Colusa Police Department, Ruiz served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is also bilingual.
“I think we were fortunate. He’s local, graduated from Pierce High School, still lives in the county, is experienced, is a veteran, and we’re fortunate he came to work with us. I think he’ll be an asset to the community and the department,” Assistant Sheriff Jim Saso said. “He knows the community and the dynamics of everything involved. We think it will be a quick turnaround to getting him out on the road. He’s a good guy, and it’s not often we get a lateral who resides in the county, so we’re happy to have him.”
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the hire during their meeting on Nov. 13. Ruiz was hired at Step 4 of the Deputy Sheriff’s Salary range, which required board approval. In the staff report for the agenda item, the Sheriff’s Office stated that hiring Ruiz at Step 4 recognized the experience and training he brought to the position, and that the Sheriff’s Office had sufficient funds budgeted to cover the cost of the request. The request also had the support of the county’s Department of Human Resources.
While his arrival at the Sheriff’s Office is a welcome one for the county, Ruiz’s departure from the Colusa Police Department puts greater stress on an already under-staffed group, and also marks the end of the city’s K-9 program – at least temporarily.
“We’re one officer and one dog down,” Lt. Eldon Tamez said. “The K-9 program is on hold now, and (in terms of staffing) we’re basically at the bare minimum to operate as a 24-hour department.”
Chief Josh Fitch said that the department’s dog, Rocky, was sold to Ruiz after the Colusa Police Department reached out to other agencies about purchasing the dog, and generated no interest. Ruiz was Rocky’s third handler at the Colusa Police Department. The prior two handlers also moved on from the department.
“We put it out to other agencies but nobody else was interested. The age of the dog was a concern,” Fitch said. “They are usually only good for service for seven to eight years, and Rocky is already 5 years old.”
The Colusa Police Department’s K-9 program was established and operated through community donations made to the Colusa Police Department K-9 Association, a non-profit group. When the K-9 program started up in 2016, it was the first time the department had a K-9 program in place for more than 15 years. All of the money that remains in the K-9 fund will stay there until the department has sufficient staffing and a qualified person to handle a dog, Fitch said. ■