In 2008, the reality of our failing economy hit Island County and Government hard. After years of being able to fund many nice programs, but in 2008 Island County Commissioners were forced to reduce expenses
They failed to use proper budgeting techniques such Zero Base, Priority budgeting, etc
Commissioners claim they have been using their version of prioritizing spending but few, if any, non mandated programs have been eliminated; more have been created.
Too many “top rated” funding needs, aka no rankings, exist in every department and no priotity rankings for anything is established by the Commissioners
DUH, Every funding need can’t have a #1 in ranking; what ever happened to numbers 2 3 4 5 6 etc, etc?
Ex-Commissioner John Dean set the stage for County’s budgeting approach for 2008, with this gem, “I have friends who are deputies and friends who are Beach Watchers, therefore I must treat them equally”
Dean’s approach to budgeting continues even today. County has continued to fund non mandated programs and “Feel Good” socially Justified programs for special interest groups from that date until now
Since 2008, the Sheriff’s department staff has been decimated
The detectives division was reduced (re-assigned detectives to patrol) by 2 Detectives and 1 Detective Supervisor.
Criminal Investigations (detectives) are no longer able keep up with currently ever increasing workloads.
Prosecutors office requests for detectives to conduct additional follow-up investigation before charges can be filed, or in preparation for trial are most often not available
Detectives are required to respond to newly committed major crimes, and follow-up requests from the Prosecutor take a back seat, not withstanding court and statutory deadlines, including rapes and homicides, where follow-up has been delayed for weeks and even months, due to emergent new cases.
Sheriff’s ability to assist the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office on follow-up requests is hampered and the detectives are making difficult choices on a daily basis about which crime to investigate.
The complexity of criminal cases has increased over the years with technology.
White collar criminal cases often involve data-intensive and time-consuming investigations that are simply prioritized lower than violent crimes
Some of this genre have taken years to complete because of prioritization issues.
Almost every felony now, includes some technology element(s) that require forensic examination etc.
Compounding the Sheriff’s problems is the significant increase in major crime over the past 3 years and as I’m sure by now you know several of those included homicides which are extremely labor intensive.
In Langley and Coupeville, there are no dedicated investigators, although they are required follow-up on their felonies just like anyone else’s. That new demand also added extra work on the sheriff’s reduced existing staff
The civil/records unit is strained significantly. Since 2008 they have lost 1.5 records staff members and other staff members try to fill in, as available, but the job results suffer accuracy and missed schedules
Workload in the jail also dictates minimum staffing during specific times in order to accomplish mandated duties (i.e. taking prisoners to court, medical appointments, etc), but they are at least 3 corrections deputies understaffed to accomplish required minimum obligations.
Citizens need the Sheriff’s organization to be pro-active, progressive, and community involved.
They need Law and Justice to change and make Island County safer.
Job overload results in staff burnout and personal stress problems
Their employees must be properly trained and they deserve most importantly the back-up they deserve.
The Sheriff‘s priority is to be on the service of providing emergency response; not after the fact report writing.
The Sheriff Department’s primary job is not to provide Citizens with heavy-handed traffic officers! They need trained personnel who will be problem solvers not ticket writers!
We deserve better
This problem can not be solved in just one year but it must start NOW
It’ll take at least 3 years because of lack of availability of trained police officers, training requirements of inexperienced officers and normal force attrition
Now is the time for action; not just talk
Part 1, of this series of articles, Prosecutor’s problems, is at this link: