I have submitted a 3% ($484,264) budget reduction in addition to the recent 2% ($321,769.00) just made to our Sheriff’s Office. At a time when the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office requires additional staffing to meet the increasing demand for service, I am forced to reduce our budget. Public Safety must be at the top of our collective priorities. We need more Patrol Deputies to serve our increasing population and to properly address the significant rise in crime during this economic downturn.
We can not equally cut budgets from everyone, especially in light of the clear spike in theft, burglary, Domestic Violence and Homicide in Pinal County. More than half of our county's population lives in unincorporated areas of our county - which mean that we are the Police and primary responders there. In addition, we are charged with a multi-jurisdictional SWAT, Search & Rescue, Narcotics Task Force and assist many smaller Police agencies in all their functions. Meanwhile, our population continues to grow and at a higher percentage in unincorporated areas.
My Chief Deputies and I have undertaken immediate actions, designed to improve operations and save monies over time. We are budgeted for $1 million and PCSO spent $1.8 million the last fiscal year and there is an additional unpaid balance exceeding $1 million in comp time. This has occurred for two reasons. 1) Staffing shortage, where we do not have enough to perform necessary functions. 2) Management of OT/Comp, where little has been done to manage or control expense of this time. We are implementing control measures to cap over-time and compensatory time.
I am submitting plans for staffing improvements in the Jail that will not result in increased costs, but will allow for increased inmate population. This may allow us to assume additional federal ICE inmates (allowed 625 inmates our current contract) and more revenue for county coffers. We are re-fielding our limited patrol resources, to best deploy our Deputies to respond to emergencies faster. We are providing improved training and aggressively competing for grant funds.
We are using RICO funds (money and property seized from criminal racketeering) for new motorcycles (approx $56k) and for the new lease of our proposed San Tan Sub-station on Ironwood/Ocotillo area (approx $80k). We have stepped up enforcement against drug smugglers and intend to seize their money and assets. We shall take the criminals’ dirty money and use it for law enforcement purposes, to add to our limited financial resources during this budget crisis.
Our aggressive training program continues with improving report writing and mandatory certification in 1st Aid/CPR. Pinal County’s population has drastically increased in unincorporated areas, yet with little change in the management or delivery of law enforcement service. We have added additional Deputies to Patrol from other assignments and will continue to demand a higher degree of discipline and accountability from our organization.
More changes and improvements shall be implemented in the coming months. I am honored to serve as your Sheriff and I will be relentless in pursuit of improved service through increased discipline, training and accountability.
Paul R. Babeu, Sheriff
Pinal County, Arizona