12/20/2007

Ky. department eliminates detective positions

The Associated Press

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — A south-central Kentucky sheriff has eliminated detective jobs and shifted two employees to patrol duties due to budget cuts.

The Warren County sheriff's office budget for 2007 was $2.3 million - a decrease of $114,405 from the previous year, and $505,000 less than what the office requested.

The latest changes mean Warren County becomes one of four area sheriff's departments without full-time investigative detectives - joining Butler, Edmonson and Simpson counties. Other sheriff's offices in nearby counties of Allen, Barren, Logan and Hart have investigative detectives.

With the elimination of detective positions, Warren County sheriff's deputies will conduct their own investigations on most cases, Maj. Randy Hargis said.

"In more serious cases, the decision will be made by the supervisor to call state police for assistance," Hargis said.

Right now, the sheriff's office has a greater need for deputies, Hargis said, though the return of detective positions is planned if the budget allows.

Every county department had to make cuts in their annual budgets, Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said.

"I believe that the sheriff determined that his office could more efficiently serve the people by cutting detectives and utilizing more uniformed deputies on the roads," he said. "His cuts help to provide the well-deserved cost of living increases for all of the men and women in his department."

The role of detective is seen as vital to Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, whose department is serving a population less than half the size of Warren County's.

Responding to calls is the most important thing for any department, Eaton said, but having local detectives is a big asset. Still, even his department - which has an investigative unit - usually seeks help from state police detectives on major cases.

"It's always better for the victim to have multiple agencies working together to solve a crime," Eaton said.

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