Sheriff cuts calls

Deputies no longer will respond to some crimes

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The Moffat County Sheriff's Office is cutting back on the number of calls deputies respond to in an effort to save money on fuel and vehicle maintenance.

As of Jan. 1, residents who want to report a misdemeanor crime that isn't in progress or report lost or found property must go to the Moffat County Public Safety Center and file a complaint.

Deputies will continue to respond to reports of felony crimes, such as thefts or property damage worth more than $500. Deputies also will respond to misdemeanor crimes in progress.

Residents also must bring their vehicles to the safety center if they want vehicle identification number inspections. If deputies go to a resident's home for the inspection, they'll charge a $10 fee.

Deputies no longer will respond to anonymous reports of barking dogs or stray dogs.

The Sheriff's Office also is encouraging patrol deputies to keep down mileage by conducting more patrols by foot. Deputies will park their cars and use radar more often to detect speeders, rather than drive around.

When county commissioners instructed all departments to cut their budgets in 2006, Sheriff Buddy Grinstead and Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg met with the staff and discussed what cost reductions made the most sense.

The office decided it could save more money by targeting expenses for fuel and vehicle maintenance, Hoberg said.

Last year, the Sheriff's Office budgeted $33,500 for fuel costs. But because of a spike in gas prices during the summer, the office spent $46,000 on fuel, Hoberg said.

The office budgeted $13,500 for vehicle maintenance last year but spent $19,000, Hoberg said.

Hoberg said he didn't have an estimate for how much money the Sheriff's Office will save this year because of the cuts. It depends on the number of calls, he said.

When voters rejected Referendum 1A in November, they sent a message that they didn't want the county to spend more money, Hoberg said.

"The citizens have said, 'We're not going to give you any more money,'" he said.

Referendum 1A would have released the county from spending caps imposed by a law from 1913. If the referendum had passed, the county would have had about $1 million more to spend in 2006.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray said he encourages departments to make the cuts that will harm the fewest people.

For the Sheriff's Office, Gray said cutting back on some calls to which deputies respond is probably the best way to reduce costs.

The Sheriff's Office will review cuts in a few months to consider whether they're worth it, Hoberg said.

The Sheriff's Office expects some residents to be upset about the cuts, Hoberg said.

The decision not to respond to anonymous complaints about dogs probably will generate a lot of complaints, Hoberg said.

If residents want to give their names, deputies will respond to complaints of barking dogs, Hoberg said.

If the barking is really a problem, residents should be willing to give their names, he said.

Deputies won't give out the name of the person who filed the complaint, Hoberg said.

The dispatchers at the Craig Regional Communications Cen--ter probably will bear the brunt of the criticism for the decision, Hoberg said.

The new rules have been in place for almost three weeks. But Verlaine Harris, regional manager at the dispatch center, said there haven't been any major complaints from callers.

If residents are angry about the decision, dispatchers will send the call to someone in the Sheriff's Office, Harris said.


Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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