Sheriff Cole Releases Quarterly Report
Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole has released the following message:
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 second quarter of 2012.
On top of our daily operations and several major projects, the flooding in northern Pine County placed a tremendous strain on the Sheriff’s Office as we try to assist the people in the flood damaged areas. It was only a year ago that a major windstorm destroyed large portions of Pine County, and work continues in dealing with the aftermath of that storm. The flash flooding added insult to injury, effecting hundreds of people in our county and thousands in the region. Damage is extensive and recovery will take years, rest assured that the Sheriff’s Emergency Management team will continue to do everything within our power and budget to facilitate recovery and prepare for our response to future events.
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 completed in the Fall. The main electronic components have been installed and functional testing is in progress. Programming and installation of field radios has begun and will continue through the third quarter. Over the past several months I have worked with our local volunteer fire departments and the County Board to develop a plan to transition the fire departments into the new radio system. After numerous meetings and receiving a $51,000.00 grant the County Board agreed to spend an additional $210,000.00 to provide approximately 70-75% of the radios needed by each department. Making investments of this type will insure trustworthy emergency communications for the next 30 years.
When I took office there were 21 Deputies available to provide 24 hour patrol response to the county, this under-staffing was one of the root causes of slow response to calls for service and the proliferation of crime in Pine County.
Over the past year we have worked to achieve a staffing level of 27 full time patrol Deputies, with the goal of improving response time, visibility and crime reduction. To accomplish this we utilized part time Deputies to demonstrate the feasibility of staffing 24 Patrol Deputies and 3 Patrol Supervisors. At this level of staffing we are able to provide an effective level of police service and accountability. As Sheriff my goal is to produce a professional full time Sheriff’s Office, not only on patrol but also in the jail.
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. I am asking the County Board to staff the Sheriff’s Office patrol division with 24 full time Patrol Deputies, 3 full time Patrol Supervisors, and 4 full time Investigators for a total of 31 full time union employees. This represents a reduction of 6 part-time Deputy positions and the associated budgetary cost reduction as well. Because of this I also requested that the County Board reverse the trend of converting full time jail positions into multiple part time positions.
Over the past several years decisions were made by the County Board to replace full time employees with part time employees. This required hiring two and sometimes three part time employees to staff one full time position. The unintended consequence was the failure to factor in that these part time employees, by county policy, receive pro-rated medical insurance and paid time off. This has produced a situation in which two of these part time employees cost more than one full time employee.
Again, my goal as Sheriff is to provide the people of this county the professional and effective services they pay for and deserve, within the budget given to me by the County Board.
For the first quarter (50%) of 2012, overall the Sheriff’s Office has expended 49% of our total budget (1% under). We have spent the following percentage of each internal operation: Sheriff 55%, Corrections/Jail 47% and emergency 911dispatch services 45%.
Listen for weekly updates, during the Pine County Sheriff’s Report, Thursday mornings at 0730 on WCMP radio.
Thank you for your continued support,
Sheriff Robin Cole