As Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell tries to turn around a department under federal scrutiny for jail brutality, racial harassment and corruption, one of his most immediate challenges is a staffing shortage that could threaten his reform agenda.

By July, the number of sworn employees needed to fill the gap will be about 1,300, according to sheriff's officials, including hundreds of deputies to make the county jails safer in response to an inmate abuse scandal and a rash of jail suicides. The deputies' union puts the number even higher, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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