County deputy patrols cut back
The Franklin County Sheriff's Department cut one patrol position in order to stay in line with the new budget potentially leaving the county unprotected at times..
Sheriff Larry Plott said the department cut the department one deputy. Three deputy slots were cut last year.
Plott said the department has 12 officers since the officer was cut from the road.
Two officers are investigators who work serious crimes, one officer is the D.A.R.E. officer and another is the process server and transport officer. That leaves nine officers for the county.
"We've been in meetings for the past few days trying to find a way to make this work," Plott said.
"There's no way those numbers go into 24-7 without overtime."
Plott said in order to stay in line with the budget, there will be times when there is not an officer patrolling the county.
These times will come when an officer calls in sick or needs to take an unexpected day off work, which cannot be scheduled.
"It's not something we want to do, but it's something we have to do in order to stay in line with the budget," Plott said.
During the times when there will not be a deputy on patrol, someone will be on call to answer emergency situations, but it is unknown how long it will take help to arrive.
"The people need to know that it's going to take more than a few minutes for us to get there," Plott said. "Instead of taking us 10 to 15 minutes to get there, it may be an hour and the people need to be aware of that."
Plott said his officers can ask for assistance from other surrounding agencies in the event of an emergency but county officers have to be on the scene and need help before they can ask for help.
"Our officers has to get there and get in trouble before another agency can assist us," Plott said.
Plott said he hopes community members will become more active in their own community with programs such as a neighborhood watch as well as checking on older citizens that live around them.
In addition to not patrolling continuously, the department will no longer be opening locked cars for those who lock their keys in their cars.
"Again is not something we want to do, but we have to in order to stay in line in the budget," Plott said. "There will be only one exception to this rule. We will only open cars where a child's life or wellbeing is in jeopardy."
The department will be looking for places to cut in order to save money.
"We stayed in our budget last year, but we did run out of money in some areas because of the rising cost of everything. We don't want to run out of money this year," Plott said.
County Commissioner Rayburn Massey said the way Plott handles his assigned budget is at his own discretion.
"This is the choice that the Sheriff has made," Massey said. "This not a choice the commission is making."
Massey said the Sheriff's department budget is larger this year than the original budget was last year.
Plott acknowledges that the budget is larger, but line items were adjusted to make room for the cost of everything increasing. Thus, the department lost another deputy even though they were already shorthanded department.
"Everyone is in the same boat in this," Plott said. "Money is tight everywhere. There is less to do with. We just want the public to understand what is going on."