Sheriff Cole Provides Quarterly Report
Pine County Sheriff’s Office Quarterly Update
By Sheriff Robin Cole
Hello Pine County, as your Sheriff I write a quarterly column to keep you updated on current events within the Sheriff’s Office.
Chief Deputy Blackwell and myself have now completed our second quarter in office and are starting to see our work and planning become reality.
In early April, the County Board approved a project management plan for implementation of the new 800 MHz radio system that will modernize the emergency radio system in our County. This is a major project which kicked off at the end of June and will be completed in the fall of 2012.
Our volunteer Posse was formed and 30 members received 16 hours of basic reserve police training in late May. The volunteer Posse provides our community with a group of trained volunteers to assist our full time staff at fairs, parades, and emergency events.
In late June, our 9 new part-time deputies completed their orientation and began field training. This is the largest number of new deputies hired by the Sheriff’s Office and it was a major administrative and logistical undertaking that began in March. Although these deputies are part time, they will provide a substantial increase to our patrol force.
With the addition of these new deputies, we began implementation of our new schedule, which will include four new positions staffed with part-time officers. My staffing goal is to provide at least four deputies on patrol at all times, and at least eleven on patrol during high demand periods, while staying within my appropriated budget.
A great deal of time was spent examining our fleet of vehicles. To maintain the practice of providing deputies with take-home cars would require replacing fourteen worn out patrol cars that were purchased in 2007 at a cost of $550,000 to $600,000.00.
This expense was not budgeted and the County simply does not have the funds to replace these cars. Working with my staff, we are rearranging our vehicle fleet, developing a fleet management and rotation plan. My goal is to reduce the fleet from 40 vehicles to approximately 28 by the end of the year.
I am often asked: “Why didn’t the deputy that lives down the road respond when I called 911?” Our deputies are union employees and when off duty they have no contractual obligation to respond. I carefully considered the pros and cons, but in the end the cost to benefit in providing take home cars is unbalanced; it is a great benefit to employees, with little benefit and great cost to the County. In the near future all deputies will drive their personal vehicle to their duty station where patrol cars are available.
For the first half (50%) of 2011, overall the Sheriff’s Office has expended 47% of our budget, but due to lagging revenues our net expenditure is 50% of our yearly budget. We have spent the following percentage of each budget (net): Sheriff 53%, Corrections 56%, and Dispatch 42%. Overtime costs are 31%, fuel and vehicle maintenance costs are 74% of the budgeted yearly total.
We are working hard to become a responsive police agency that you can be proud of. This means rebuilding relationships and establishing trust with all of the communities in our County. In the last six months we’ve done a lot of listening. Our citizens must be heard in order to have improved relations. I also provide weekly updates and additional information, during the Pine County Sheriff’s Report, Thursday mornings at 0730 on WCMP radio.
Sheriff Robin Cole