Sheriff’s Log: “Hard Times, Hard Choices, Hard Work”

We are in a period of hard times and this demands hard choices and hard work. The economic recovery is very slow and this has prompted on-going cutbacks in the public sector. Pierce County government and the Pierce County Sheriff ’s Department are certainly experiencing the impact.

So what have we done in the Sheriff ’s Department? We have made staffing cuts and we have prioritized services, and we have consolidated efforts. We have dealt with hard times by making hard choices and doing hard work.

Let me be clear. We are not doing more with less. But I am proud to say that we work to do all we can with what we have. In the midst of hard times, we are showing some strong results despite real challenges in our highest priority areas. We continued to keep a handle on the county’s “Methademic.” We have a high clearance rate for difficult major crimes. We have reduced gang violence in the county. We have reduced drunk driving. We have used Crime Stoppers to arrest many violent criminals. We have introduced programs to stop abuse of the elderly and recover missing children.

Another indicator of our hard work and hard choices is the dollar amount spent per person, per year on law enforcement services in unincorporated Pierce County. You can calculate this indicator by doing some long division. Take the total amount spent to provide police services in unincorporated areas in the course of a year: the costs of salaries and training and cars and equipment and insurance and everything else. Now divide that total cost figure by the total population residing in unincorporated County.

And what is the cost of Pierce County Sheriff’s Department services to the over 395,000 residents of unincorporated Pierce County? Over the past several years, it has varied between $129 and $141 per resident per year for law enforcement services. All of the other agencies in this area spend between $287 and $358 per resident per year. Again, $129 $141 versus $287 $358.

This is one indicator of hard choices and hard work. It is a straightforward measure of relative efficiency that shows how we operate.

Let me be clear. I am not saying that we are doing all that I would prefer to do to prevent crime and arrest criminals. I would prefer to work more burglary and theft and fraud cases and provide more traff ic enforcement and more community policing. I want to do more. But in the face of hard economic times, we make hard choices because resources are limited.

Now, I am not saying that we have achieved perfect efficiency. But we really are doing a great deal with the resources we are given. And we have been doing this for some time.

So, when you compare the cost of services, we are delivering a lot of product and we are showing some very solid results at a very low cost. I am proud of the hard work our people do and their willingness to step up to hard choices. I know and you know that resources are very limited.

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