Law Enforcement Tax Update
It's been just over one year and one month since the voters of this great county voted in a law enforcement tax for the operations of the Coroner, Prosecutor and Sheriff.
This tax was implemented on April 1st, 2022 and has exceeded expectations.
To keep you, the citizens, and the voters apprised of the progress that has been made, I want to tell you how the decisions are made and approved for budgeting and spending.
All three Officeholders (Coroner, Prosecutor and Sheriff) meet quarterly to discuss needs for each office - now and in the future (five years and forward). We discuss the current budget and whether amendments are needed. Once everything is settled, all three sign a letter documenting the meeting and the agreed-upon items, if any have changed. This letter is then given to the County Commissioners. who vote whether to approve the requests.
What has been done so far for the Sheriff's Office?
The first step was to work on getting our staff a livable wage. I can proudly say that has been accomplished this month, with Deputies now making a starting wage of $43,200 instead of $25,000. Communications Officers now make $39,500 compared to $22,100. Detention Officers make $37,500 compared to $26,300. (All comparisons are to five years ago.) This makes us now very competitive with neighboring agencies, allowing us to attract high-quality candidates and improve employee retention rates.
Second, we continued the initiative of replacing our aging fleet of vehicles. Most of the previous fleet had 350k-plus hard miles on them, and they were nickel-and-diming our budget to death simply to maintain safe operating conditions. We've replaced three vehicles this year, in addition to the 10 that were done in the past two years. By the end of 2023, our fleet will have been completely replaced, and on a mandatory 100k milage rotation. This will maximize our trade-in and resale values and utilize vehicle warranties to reduce money spent on vehicle maintenance.
Third, we've added two new Deputy spots to the Patrol Division to increase our presence in the county. A Deputy has been added to serve the Courts, the needs of which have continued to grow with the addition of Municipal Courts now coming to our County Court. A Narcotics Detective position, which was cut back in 2018 due to funding restrictions, has been added back.
Fourth, state-of-the-art tools have been added to our Investigations Division to allow them to do more with less resources, thus saving money later. These tools include 3D crime scene scanners, drones, forensic software and more.
Fifth, we invest in your employees, providing training to help meet the level of service that you expect and deserve. That's why three of our supervisors are currently going through a 12-week command college class to better themselves and those whom they lead. This is one example of many training opportunities our staff has taken advantage of in recent months.
All these things would not be possible to implement this quickly without the support of our citizens.
As our county continues to grow, so will the demand for services - and we will continue to strive to meet or exceed those needs.
Sheriff Larry Fish