Is it fair that families who live within city or town limits receive more than double the police protection? Almost 212,000 Pinal residents do not live in a city or town and are the primary responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office. We have 209 deputies for 212,000 residents who live in the unincorporated county areas like San Tan Valley, Gold Canyon, Hidden Valley, Queen Valley, Arizona City, San Manuel, Oracle, Saddlebrooke and portions of Casa Grande and Apache Junction. Local Police Departments have over 540 full time Police Officers to protect 170,000 residents within the city limits and tribal reservations.
Our deputies not only protect more families with less than half the officers, we patrol a much larger area and provide additional regional services of SWAT, DUI Task Force, Civil Process Service, Search & Rescue, Air Unit, Narcotics Task Force and we track the 900 sex offenders in every Pinal community.
In January, the Segal Group performed a full staff study that showed that even compared to neighboring Maricopa and Pima county, we are sorely understaffed by 141 deputies.
In addition to requesting more deputies, I’ve requested replacement vehicles for our aging patrol fleet, since we have over 44 patrol cars that will soon have over 150,000 miles. Sadly, my request for replacement patrol vehicles was also denied by the board of supervisors. It costs more to maintain and repair these older cars, nevermind the inevitable legal liability. Imagine if a deputy is delayed from responding to your family emergency because their car broke down, or if a deputy crashes while in a pursuit?
During the elections, then candidates for the board of supervisors made providing funding to the Sheriff’s Office their top priority in the election. Steve Miller said, “I would never jeopardize the citizens of Pinal County, if public safety resources are needed, I will provide for them in the budget as a supervisor.” TriValley Central, Oct 16, 2012. Todd House said, “We want to be known as a safe county. When it comes to safety, that’s one thing I won’t take a back step on. If you are going to do something, you might as well do it right.” Cheryl Chase said in the same article, “Law enforcement is a priority, and keeping dangerous criminals off the streets is a priority.” Maricopa Monitor, February 1st, 2013. Tony Smith said, “Quality of life, is of major importance, it is tied to public safety initiatives.” CopaNews.Com – February 18th, 2010. Even Pete Rios did the kabuki dance when he said, “Public safety is a priority of our constituents and the Board of Supervisors to make sure people are safe out on the streets and at home.” Issues and Answers with Supervisor Pete Rios, August 2012
If local Police Departments were staffed to the Sheriff’s Office current levels, Casa Grande Police would have to lay off 37 officers, Maricopa Police 20 officers, Coolidge Police 21, Apache Junction Police 36, Florence 22 and Eloy Police 24. This would lessen the burden on the local budget and taxpayers, yet I wonder if city residents would approve?
Some of our best deputies are being lured to valley agencies to make more money. Last month K-9 Deputy Eric Berner, an eight year veteran and field training officer resigned to make $15,000 more with the Chandler Police Dept. Eric said he is a personal reference for seven other deputies who are looking for higher pay at the Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa departments. County supervisors somehow believe that this turn over is good, yet it costs over $90,000 and nearly one full year to recruit and train a deputy, never mind the loss of experience.