Posted June 18, 2017 02:53 am - Updated June 18, 2017 03:17 am
By JARED KEEVER email@example.com
‘Honestly, we are trying to catch up’: Shoar cites growth as he looks to add 18 road deputies, others with budget proposal
When St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar goes before the County Commission on Tuesday to present his proposed budget for next year, he will be asking for funding for, among other things, 18 more road deputies to add to the 12 that he asked for, and received, last year.
It will be the second in what will likely end up being three requests that Shoar says is necessary to get his agency up to the size it needs to be in order to deal with the county’s growing population.
“Honestly, we are trying to catch up,” Shoar said Monday, seated behind the desk in his office.
“I appreciate the 12 deputies, but I’m coming back again,” he added later. “We’re just to the point where we’ve got to add people.”
Thumbing through a 24-page “executive summary” that he and his staff prepared for county commissioners in order to explain his request for a 7.26 percent budget increase, Shoar ticked off a list of challenges his agency is facing including the growing opioid epidemic being felt here and across the U.S., a deadly stretch of Interstate 95, and a rash of suicides, attempted suicides and, as his summary says, “other mental health issues.”
The Sheriff’s Office’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18 for the “general operating account” — which includes bailiffs, corrections and law enforcement — is about $72 million (Shoar said Friday that that portion of his budget will come in slightly lower than the $72.22 million he submitted to commissioners), compared to last year’s $67.18 million.
Last year the commissioners gave him a 7.5 percent bump.
As Shoar’s letter to the commissioners on the front page of his summary says, this year’s requested increase would add another 18 law enforcement deputies to the ranks, as well as four 911 operators, two corrections deputies and two civilian positions in the corrections department.
Shoar said he knows it’s a steep request, particularly when other agencies and departments in the county are also hurting, but it’s necessary after years of virtually holding steady since the recession.
According to Shoar’s report, the county population is expected to hit 242,140 this year, up from the 181,180 of 2008. During that time of growth, full-time law enforcement positions at the Sheriff’s Office have only increased — with some peaks and valleys — from 280 to 285, a chart in the summary shows.
That’s being felt countywide, Shoar said, particularly in the two fastest growing of the county’s four patrol districts.
To illustrate the need for more manpower on the streets, another series of charts and graphs shows the response times to “Priority 1” calls like suicide threats, disturbances, shootings and home invasions. Such calls require a lights-and-sirens response from at least two deputies and are extremely time-sensitive, the summary says.
“We’ve hit the point in some areas of our county where our Priority 1 response time is unacceptable,” Shoar said.
The agency target response time is five minutes and 30 seconds, but in the northeast and northwest districts that time has crept above six minutes and, in some cases, well over seven minutes in the northwest district in the last five months.
He said there are also far too many serious, and fatal, crashes on Interstate 95, and his office just doesn’t have the people to send out there to patrol it.
“We don’t have a handle on I-95 in our county and that’s a problem,” he said.
The additional deputies, Shoar explained, will allow his staff to add, and redraw, “zones” that each deputy is assigned to. That will cut down on the area covered by a single deputy and travel times to calls.
“We are having to right-size those zones,” Shoar said.
To do so, the Sheriff’s Office partnered with the University of North Florida and the Northeast Florida Planning Council and Shoar said they found that the agency’s current staffing levels fall well-below any accepted model.
The U.S. Department of Justice, for example, he said, recommends 1.9 officers per 1,000 residents.
While Shoar said he doesn’t hold fast to such models, it is a useful tool for comparison.
“Our ratio is 1.1 and that is unacceptable,” he said. “It puts us in the bottom third of all counties in the state.”
(Shoar’s packet shows that the ratios for 2016 and 2017 are 1.14 and 1.18 respectively.)
He said he is ultimately shooting to get the ratio to 1.25.
“We are good with that right now,” he said.
Shoar’s summary also provides a brief explanation for the need to add four more 911 operators.
With the growth, the Sheriff’s Office Communication Center has seen a 40 percent increase in calls for service from 2010 to 2016, according to the same summary (a portion of that increase appears to have had to do with internal changes to the ways the agency counts the calls). Because the Communications Center operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a “12-hour shift structure” the four new jobs represent only one additional position.
Likewise, the 18 new deputies, should he receive funding for them, would only represent a few new patrol positions on the street, he pointed out.
Shoar said Monday that he’s optimistic the commissioners will be receptive to his proposal, but knows that they have tough decisions to make. He also warned that, as the county continues to grow, his agency will have to do so as well in order to keep staffing levels and ratios where they need to be.
“I am probably going to go back next year with an additional request,” he said. “And hopefully that will hold us.”
"Honestly" it is hard to believe County Sheriff David Shoar is still sheriff. Intimidating the medical examiner, withholding evidence, attacking the press, and making public statements that are outright lies to cover up his wrongdoing and that of officers. You have to question the competence and responsibility of a law enforcement official threatening the just protection of our community with his unprofessional conduct.
What the agency needs first is an "honest" sheriff.
Well............................................ something very interesting
" Thumbing through a 24-page “executive summary” that he and his staff prepared for county commissioners in order to explain his request for a 7.26 percent budget increase, "
This 24 page "executive summary " is NOT available in the County Agenda back-up ! THAT IS NOT RIGHT !
Question: WHY ?
Answer: Secret Government ! ( no legal authority to hide from Public )
WHAT IS THE SHERIFF AND THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS HIDING ?