Cuts to sheriff’s budget came from the commission

East OlympiaJanuary 17, 2014 

And the hits just keep on coming. I hope unincorporated county voters took note of the $1.6 million cut to the Thurston County Sheriff’s 2014 budget, purportedly to fund opening the new jail. We need to open the new jail since the existing jail is antiquated, overpopulated and disintegrating.

However, as an unincorporated county resident who relies on deputy response, I cannot support this ludicrous plan which will force the sheriff to leave field deputy positions unfilled in order to absorb this cut. Over 85 percent of the sheriff’s budget is personnel costs.

I know how this politically motivated game plays out. If the sheriff does not fill vacant deputy positions to meet the budget cut, the county commissioners will claim that it was the sheriff’s decision. Commissioners would like you to believe the sheriff could cut higher paid command staff instead. Who then will be there to supervise and direct law enforcement activities?

The Olympian’s editorial board correctly acknowledged in December that it’s the commissioners who negotiated contracts with the command staff, not the sheriff.

The sheriff is understaffed for the population growth we have experienced in the past 20 years. The public is already underserved. The rise in violent crimes experienced here is frightening.

Reducing the sheriff’s field forces to pre-1990 levels is both unconscionable and irresponsible. Deputies already average over 10 minutes response time to emergencies. Our public’s safety is in peril.

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