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Does the sheriff always need more?

When was the last time a sheriff said he needs less money?

That’s the question that came to mind when Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield explained why he needs new deputies, new cars and new equipment.

In recent days, Mayfield has begun what seems to be his annual push for more.

Rarely one to second-guess crime fighters, I have always been open to arguments made by Mayfield and his deputies. After all, they are the ones who work to keep the criminals off the streets and our neighborhoods safe.

When people complain about the cowboy hats, the glossy photos of Mayfield and his team of deputies riding horseback down Main Street or a web site welcoming users with images of the sheriff’s department standing in front of a fleet of cars and emergency vehicles, I shrug it off. When Mayfield ran for office, he promised there would be changes — the uniform and the attitude would be part of that change, he said.

What hasn’t changed however, is the annual plea for money. Just as much as his predecessors did, Mayfield makes his plea in the name of crime fighting.

“We are really pushing our deputies,” Mayfield said. “They are running from one call after another after another.”

“If we don’t have enough people to back us up, somebody is going to get hurt,” Mayfield warned.

To demonstrate his need, the sheriff said that one only has to look at the number of calls to which deputies respond. The number of calls has increased to the point that Mayfield said he needs four new deputies — one for each shift,

According to the sheriff’s numbers, the department responded to 6,573 calls in 2011. In 2010, deputies responded to 6,154 calls.

In all the ACSO responded to 419 more calls in 2011 than they did in 2010. Spread out over 365 days, deputies responded to approximately 1.19 more calls on average each day. Divided equally over four shifts that equals to a .28 increase per day per shift — that’s an increase of about two calls per week, per shift.

This does not reflect the 911 calls the dispatcher received, Mayfield points.

Even still, does this constitute a need for four new deputies?

Maybe it does, but what is the sheriff doing to save money?

The ACSO recently invested $45,000 of taxpayer money into a new computer system in order to streamline work.

The system has the potential to make the sheriff’s office paperless — a centralized hub for reports. Instead of spending time filing and retrieving digital reports, deputies can now access them with the click of a button.

Booking inmates with a new fingerprinting system and software makes the process simpler and more efficient, automatically pulling up inmate history with the scan of a fingertip.

Such technology is saving time and money for the Adams County Sheriff’s Office — possibly enough time to take into account two extra calls per week, per shift.

The sheriff points out that this is 2012 and not 1972. The work of the sheriff’s office is different, he says. So too is technology.

Surely there are many other technologies that can save the taxpayers money and give deputies the extra time they need out in the field rather than in the office.

With the help of such technologies we might see the sheriff save more and ask for less.

 

Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.