Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole Releases Quarterly Report
As Pine County Sheriff, I write a quarterly column to update residents on current events within the Sheriff’s Office. We have now completed the first quarter of 2012.
Work continues on implementation of the new 800 MHz radio network and fire paging system. These two projects will modernize our emergency radio systems, and will be complete this Fall. In mid June, I will request the County Board to purchase radios and develop an electronics equipment pool to modernize the radios used by the counties eleven volunteer fire departments. Strategic investment of this type will insure trustworthy emergency communication for the next 30 years.
In January, seven new Patrol Deputies joined the Sheriff’s Office, their field training is ending, and they are being added into the work schedule. These additional Deputies bring the sworn complement to: 24 Patrol Deputies, 6 part-time Patrol Deputies, 3 Patrol Supervisors, 3 Detectives, 1 Narcotics Agent, 1 Jail Lieutenant, 1 Chief Deputy, and 1 Sheriff for a total of 40 licensed sworn employees. We have an additional 60 employees, divided between administrative, dispatch, and corrections for a total of 100 employees.
We continually strive to develop and adjust daily staffing levels to best meet the service demands of the county within the financial constraints of our budget. Our goal is to respond to every call quickly and provide competent service. There is no reason for residents to accept police service less sophisticated than what is available in urban areas simply because we chose to live in a rural setting. Through good hiring, training, motivating, and leading we will produce a level of service equal to the best agencies in the state.
Using technology to improve efficiency is common in every industry, and law enforcement is no different. We have spent a great deal of time exploring the latest advancements in hardware and software. This investment in time and travel, has revealed a software system that is compatible with our current in car components, and allows police reports to be entered from the squad car. Our current software requires Deputies to return to an office to enter a report into the system, this often requires driving many miles to gather information and returning to enter a report.
For the first quarter (25%) of 2012, overall the Sheriff’s Office has expended 24% of our budget, but due to lagging revenues our net is 27.6% of our yearly budget and we have spent the following percentage of each budget: Sheriff 28%, Corrections 21%, and Dispatch 23%.
Our county jail was designed and built with the ability to board prisoners from other counties to offset the expense of housing Pine County prisoners. In 2011, the boarding of prisoners generated over $700,000.00 in revenue, but during 2011 a disturbing trend developed with several regional jails undercutting-boarding rates.
The County Board sets all fees charged by the county. I have continually updated them on jail revenues, and the possible need to lower our boarding rate to meet market factors. In January of 2012, I notified the Board that another County had cut its boarding rate to $42.50 per day while we continued to charge $50.00 per day. Our boarding population dropped to almost zero, while the County Board refused to lower our boarding rate. Low boarding numbers continued through the first quarter of 2012, amounting to a revenue loss of over $120,000.00. On April 3, the Board finally agreed to allow my Office to adjust our boarding rate to between $50.00 and $40.00 per day, based on the market. I have instructed my staff to reach maximum boarding capacity as soon as possible. If we can maintain maximum capacity we may have a chance to make up for the current $120,000.00 deficit.
The focus of the Pine County Sheriff’s Office is to serve the citizens of this county, to protect your constitutional rights, and ensure that enforcement is fair and equal for all. This focus is possible because of the unique powers granted by law to the County Sheriff. The most important of these, is that the Sheriff answers directly to the citizens, not the County Board. This allows the Sheriff to conduct public safety activities without political influence or interference. This is the principle I follow in my daily activities. The power of the County Board is found in the legislative branch, while the power of the Sheriff is found in the executive branch. This is our form of government, and I took an oath to up-hold it.
We will continue working with our local newspapers to get information out, and make sure you listen for additional information, during the Pine County Sheriff’s Report, Thursday mornings at 0730 on WCMP radio.
Thank you for the support,
Sheriff Robin Cole