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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
3:07 PM Mon, Nov. 12th

Sheriff wants $2.5 million, 20 more deputies

Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh asked the Board of Supervisors for more than $2.5 million in program changes for the fiscal year 2006-07 General Fund budget Friday.

Waugh said that during his 15 months as sheriff the common thread he hears in the community is that residents rarely see a deputy or it takes a long time for one to respond.

Waugh said the Sheriff's Office serves 30 communities in the county. He said deputies respond to an average of 127 incidents per day with a minimum response time of 30 minutes.

The sheriff made his evaluation based on the number of calls, geography, response time, officer safety and back-up, and the potential for violence.

Waugh said the patrol bureau needs an additional 58 deputies during the next four years.

Initially, the sheriff would add 20 deputies and four sergeants this budget season at a cost to the county of $1,865,161.

The sheriff also is asking for $230,727 for dispatch, $118,321 for criminal investigations, $160,000 for technical and clerical, and $96,000 for communication equipment.

Waugh noted that the Sheriff's Office has "two big ticket items ­ personnel and overtime."

He said the 2005-06 budget includes $201,000 for overtime; however, Waugh anticipates spending $270,000. For the 2006-07 budget the sheriff is asking for $400,000 for overtime.

Waugh noted that narcotics officers work a lot of overtime because the hours are irregular and they must respond at any time.

The Sheriff's Office has revised its Volunteers in Policing (VIP) program. Waugh said VIPs can now gather reports and must complete additional training and testing.

"As a result of the added training a number of VIPs have dropped out. We are asking more of them and asking them to be more responsible," Waugh said.

The Sheriff's Office currently has 84 VIPs.

Supervisor Chip Davis asked when the use of technology in the Sheriff's Office would increase efficiency.

Waugh said it would probably be 10 years before deputies could use laptops to file reports from their vehicles because the laptops are microwave-based, and the county's geography would require numerous microwave towers.

"The field people will be the first to move to technology," Waugh said. "Once the new (jail) booking software is adopted, all of the law enforcement agencies in the county will be able to book inmates online."

Waugh said the Sheriff's Office currently has 124 deputies, and there are 85,000 people in the unincorporated areas of the county.

"This translates into 1.4 deputies for every 1,000 people and one deputy for every 64 square miles," Waugh said.

Contact the reporter at prhoden@prescottaz.com