10/08/2007

Utah sheriff's department feeling the budget crunch

By Paul Rolly
The Salt Lake Tribune

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah - The Davis County Sheriff's Office is broke.

A recent e-mail from the administration to the patrol deputies said that because funds are basically dried up for the rest of the year, no overtime will be granted, morning briefings are canceled and deputies are required to limit their driving to 75 to 100 miles per 12-hour shift, even though the county is 30 miles long and the Sheriff's Office is responsible for much of the paramedic service in the county.

Sheriff Bud Cox says the office has tried to be judicious in its spending, but high gas prices, increased costs of office supplies and an unexpected number of traffic accidents has taken its toll.

The memo also warned deputies about letting their car engines idle. Anyone caught with the car running while he or she is not in it will have the car taken away, the memo said.

Sources inside the office say that while the department is cutting its operations on the road, it still found the money to send up to two dozen deputies and officers to the four-day Corrections and Law Enforcement Training Conference in St. George last month.

Cox said he was perturbed at those complaints. "They complain they don't get enough training, then when they give them training, they complain about that." He said the money had been budgeted for that conference before it convened. He also saw the training as necessary.

A property tax increase approved by the County Commission last year raised about $4 million for the Sheriff's Office, but all that went to jail operations, not patrol operations.

Little hero: Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini passed along this story about a group of elementary schoolchildren walking home last week when a teenager standing in his yard pointed a gun at them and told them to run or he would shoot them.

The children ran away, but one 10-year-old boy noticed a first-grade girl looking confused and standing, frozen, near the threatening teen. Despite believing the gun toter would shoot him, he ran back for the 6-year-old and helped her walk away.

"I thought I was going to die," he later told Midvale police, who honored him with a "Hero Award," and referred the teen to juvenile court.

Mystery solved: Administrators at Emerson Elementary have gotten the student who sold candy to Tribune reporter Nathan Gonzalez for a PTA fundraiser to admit he altered Gonzalez's check to make the amount $19 instead of $9. They told Gonzalez the boy is writing him an apology and his mother is sending him a refund.

Speaking of the PTA: After receiving a number of complaints, the Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office says it is investigating whether the state PTA should register as a Political Issues Committee (PIC) because it apparently is spending money to defeat the voucher law in the November referendum. We're not sure whether the complainants are the same folks who refuse to reveal who is spending money for pro-voucher radio ads.

Copyright 2007 Salt Lake Tribune

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