DENVER (CBS4)– The Denver Sheriff’s Department is slimming down its deputy dining program after a CBS4 Investigation revealed taxpayers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars subsidizing everything from fresh lump crab to salmon and chicken cordon bleu for deputies, administrators and other sheriff’s department employees.
Undersheriff Gary Wilson released a written statement to CBS4 stating the department is “…eliminating certain food options from the menu,” following the CBS4 probe.
Wilson has repeatedly refused to discuss the dining program on camera or allow videotaping of the sheriff’s department’s food service facilities saying through a spokesman it would be a “security risk.”
The CBS4 report revealed the purchase of everything from fresh lump crab to scallops and roast beef and mango mousse pies for consumption by Denver Sheriff’s department deputies and staff over the last two and a half years. The food purchases are costing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
Deputies and staff are only required to pay $1 per day for the meals and could have as many helpings as they wanted, and eat as many meals as they were able to for that $1 during the course of a 10 to 12 hour work day, according to multiple sources.
The sheriff’s department said it feeds deputies because they can’t leave Denver’s jails during the course of the work day.
Records show the sheriff’s department collected about $60,000 from staff in 2011, although the food and labor may have cost as much as eight times that much.
Insiders say the department will now go to a stripped down “no frills” menu for staff and will consider having deputies pay for extra helpings.
The CBS4 Investigation also pointed out that many employees are eating without even paying the $1 per day. The department is now considering options to bring more accountability and controls to make sure everyone pays for the food.
Deputies and insiders say a typical breakfast for deputies features two fresh egg dishes like scrambled eggs and custom made omelets, waffles and pancakes, bacon and toast and hash browns along with an array of cold cereals, fresh fruit, granola and yogurt.
Lunch and dinner typically include two entrees like ribs and pasta, a 20 item fresh salad bar, and a selection of cakes, cookies, fruits and pies for dessert.
Other sheriff’s departments told CBS4 they also let deputies and staff eat in an employee cafeteria, but in most cases, those workers pay several dollars per meal, are not allowed free second helpings, have to pay per item and the programs do not require taxpayer subsidies.
The Denver Auditors Office is also looking into what the CBS4 Investigation found, and will likely launch an audit into the deputy dining program, according to Denis Berckefeldt, a spokesman for Auditor Dennis Gallagher.
Amber Miller, a spokesperson for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told CBS4, “The Mayor has asked Undersheriff Wilson to review the policies and procedures surrounding the food program and make any changes necessary to ensure this program is fiscally responsible, efficient and cost effective.”
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com