Budget Cuts Equal Slower Response Times

Budget Cuts Equal Slower Response Times
By: Arnold Wyrick
Jefferson County, IL - Budget cutbacks lead to fewer deputies on the force, older patrol cars, and slower response times in Jefferson County. The county board cutback the sheriff's department budget 25% earlier this year. Now deputies no longer drive their squad cars home, and there are only six cars remaining for the three shifts scheduled daily.
"They were assigned to those deputies to take those vehicles home to give more of a presence to alleviate some of the crime, which actually worked for awhile," says Sheriff Roger Mulch.
But that's no longer the case since the county board pulled the extra squad cars off the road.
"The biggest thing we liked to use that for is in the event of an emergency, we could deploy deputies from all over the county. And we can't do that any longer. I will not send a deputy to a call in their personal car," Sheriff Mulch said.
The county board chairman Ted Buck sees things differently. In fact he says patrolling the road isn't the sheriff's first priority.
"The sheriff's duties by the way are civil process of papers, court security, and maintaining a jail, not patrolling the county," Chairman Buck said.
But Sheriff Mulch says the cutbacks have left him with fewer deputies, and old cars to work with.
"Response times to calls have decreased mainly because we either don't have enough vehicles to maintain those patrols, or to run to those calls. We have two deputies most of the time to handle all the calls in the county," Sheriff Mulch said.
The county board says there well aware of the situation and are working on improving things in the county.
"We are going to buy three new patrol cars in December, and we'll replace the others as we have the money to do so. But as of right now we're going to ask department heads to hold the lines on the cuts we made this year, through the next fiscal year. That's when we should start seeing some relief from the 1/2 % sales tax we voted in, in March," Chairman Buck said.
Meanwhile Sheriff Mulch is left trying to juggle vehicles and deputies to keep the citizens safe.
"The problem is the six cars we have remaining they're getting used for all the shifts, and the mileage is really running up on them. The average cars got at least 200,000 miles on it. And it's getting to where we can't maintain them, they're dying if you will."