The Sheriff’s Office has ordered 44 new vehicles, scheduled to arrive in the next 60 days. They come complete with new wireless computers, enabling Deputies to write reports in the field. We have 22 black and white 4X4 pick-up trucks included in this partial replacement of our aging vehicle fleet. Trucks will be dispersed evenly on every shift and throughout the county. Many roads remain unpaved and trucks ensure our quick response.
Our new Motorcycle Unit is purchasing four new Honda Police equipped motorcycles. This five Deputy squad is currently driving patrol vehicles, yet will transition to motorcycles and one patrol vehicle. Just this week PCSO was awarded $40,000 in grant funds by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for our new Motor Unit. The remaining monies shall come from RICO funds (forfeited assets from drug racketeering).
We shall improve traffic safety by focusing on accident investigations, targeted traffic enforcement and DUI’s. Pinal County will see our first multi-agency DUI Task Force on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
Our aggressive training program has started with improving report writing and mandatory certification in 1st Aid/CPR. We are offering training for patrol to respond to an Active Shooter. This is 2-day scenario based training; to provide Patrol Deputies and local Police Departments the tactical skills to defeat an armed and active threat prior to SWAT arrival.
Our SWAT team has already improved by planning and resourcing training. Eloy Police Captain and SWAT Commander Shane Blakeman is working closely with Chief Steve Henry and our SWAT Oversight Committee to implement reforms, ensure proper training and to identify equipment needs.
Over the next two weeks I’m hosting four meetings with sworn Patrol Staff to develop plans to re-deploy our limited patrol resources in order to reduce emergency response times. Pinal County’s population has drastically increased in unincorporated areas, yet with little change in the management or delivery of law enforcement service. We have added additional Deputies to Patrol from other assignments, yet the staffing model to cover Pinal County’s 5,400 miles has not changed in 8 years.
I have requested a financial audit of all PCSO finances to be performed by Lori Stripling (Internal Audit Officer) or by an outside Financial Audit team. This will give our Sheriff’s Office a needed clean bill of financial health. We must be transparent in our financial operations in order to maintain the trust of the public and to ensure our professionalism.
Our first ever audit of our Jail Operations has been completed and a written assessment has been provided to Chief James Kimble and my Jail Commanders. This was not a financial audit, but a complete top to bottom assessment of our operations and we were measured against the American Correctional Association (ACA) standards. The audit assessed every aspect of our Jail, including but not limited to: security, record keeping, key/tool/chemical control, correctional healthcare practices, equipment inspections, food service operations, staff training and staffing (scheduling and supervisors). We now have a road map to move ahead, with clearly identified strengths, areas that need improvement and failings.
The Board of Supervisors requested an immediate 2% budget reduction by all county departments. Our reduction for law enforcement is $321,769.00. The good news is the majority of these savings shall be realized from our re-organization of PCSO and elimination of some top administrators.
PCSO requires additional staffing to meet the increasing demand for service. I have clearly and strongly articulated this message to county leaders. We need more Patrol Deputies to serve our increasing population and to properly address the significant spike in crime during this economic downturn.
More changes and improvements shall be implemented in the coming months. I am honored to serve as your Sheriff and I will be relentless in pursuit of improved service through increased discipline, training and accountability.
Paul R. Babeu, Sheriff
Pinal County, Arizona