Florence, Ariz. – Budgets have been reduced, yet crime has risen during this economic downturn. We have improved staff training, added new technology and equipment to ensure improved safety for Pinal families. Many citizens questioned how law enforcement could improve service and purchase millions of dollars in new equipment while in an economic recession. Budgets have been reduced by 10%, many vacant staff positions frozen, or even laid off.
We are working smarter and demanding accountability. We hired Tim Gaffney, as our Grant Administrator who has applied for nearly $7 million dollars in new grant funds to enhance law enforcement operations. PCSO did not have a coordinator and therefore lost millions in state and federal monies.
Today, we have forty-nine grants worth $6,888,610.53 and another six pending worth $761,026. Finance managers Anna Parra and Linda Martinez do an amazing job keeping track of these grants and the required financial reporting.
Just this month, we received over $1.3 million in grants. Our $320,000 “Pinal County Regional DUI Task Force” van was fully funded by the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and came with an additional $130,000 to fund officer salaries to provide sustained DUI enforcement throughout Pinal County. We have all thirteen local Police agencies participating in weekly DUI enforcement details. This goes a long way to combat alcohol-related collisions, which are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of six (6) and thirty-three (33). Governors Office of Highway Safety Director Albert Gutier and I recognize the need, in Pinal County, for strict enforcement of impaired driver laws and the need for adequate equipment to ensure efficiency and effective processing of these cases. This is evidenced by the startling statistic that more than fifty percent of all fatal collisions in Pinal County are alcohol related. These facts should alarm everyone. Pinal County Police Chiefs and your Sheriff’s Office are now fighting DUI with zero tolerance. Gone are the days when a DUI driver gets stopped by the Police and is allowed to park their car and get a ride home.
We recently received four grants totaling $498,000 to purchase upgraded portable radios (Motorola XTS2500) which will greatly improve communications and officer safety. Hard charging patrol Sgt. Jason Villegas wrote a grant request and we received nearly $250,000 towards this total award! The new radios will allow PCSO interoperability, which is the ability to speak directly with other emergency responders. Many citizens believed Deputies had this ability, yet we could not speak directly with other law enforcement agencies or fire departments.
Grant funding is also paying for new communications consoles in Dispatch, training programs for staff, computers & radios in patrol vehicles, new ballistic vests, hand held radar units, portable breath test machines, computer aided accident reconstruction equipment, stop sticks, light towers for night emergencies and motorcycles.
Your Sheriff’s Office has come a long way in ten months. I appreciate our 700 full time employees who have embraced the many changes implemented since I became Sheriff. Their passion and dedication to serve Pinal County families is simply amazing. I’m very proud of their hard work ethic and discipline during a time when their work load (crime) has significantly increased. Together, we are fully committed to improving operations and law enforcement service until we attain our goal of becoming the finest Sheriff’s Office in Arizona.
Paul Babeu, Sheriff
Pinal County, Arizona