Budget Cuts: One of our major accomplishments this 2015 has been our ability to adapt our level of services under the constraints of budget cuts. Last summer the Board of Commissioners, facing a $500,000 budget shortfall, requested that each department provide up to an overall 10% reduction for the FY2015 budget. A daunting task considering the Sheriff and Jail budgets represent almost five million dollars, not including the Ketchum division. To meet our fiscal responsibilities for a balanced budget, almost $199,000 was cut from our Sheriff and Jail FY2015 operating budgets covering 40% of the county’s shortfall. We have worked diligently throughout the year to exercise close budget oversight and stay within these tight financial constraints while ensuring that our citizens are not impacted by reduced levels of service. While this level of budget cuts is neither repeatable nor sustainable, we are proud to have done our part this year to assist in the County’s fiscal stability and the effective utilization of citizen and taxpayer resources.
Social Media: Our Community Connectivity Plan was created this past year to use internet based social media to communicate public safety information and operational services information to our citizens efficiently, effectively and in a timely manner. We currently have over 1300 Facebook friends which is comparable to other larger sheriff’s offices who have been doing social media much longer. During the last year, we have made 300 posts on Facebook and Twitter. In addition to receiving over 344,000 views, we have had over 4000 message likes, 600 comments and 2150 message shares. In a county of 22,000 people, we are proud of this accomplishment. We are reaching our citizens with important and timely information; 59% of our posts are public safety information, 14% are customer service information and 27% are our own BCSO news. Urgent public safety information can come at any time of day. To ensure the safety of our citizens, we take pride in our ability to manage and make mobile posts so that the information is well-timed; 52% of our posts are during non-business hours. We have received positive feedback that the public is appreciative of the helpful information we provide and that we have developed modern communication tools to reach out to them. We are continuing to develop and expand our Community Connectivity plan to respond to social change and optimize public accessibility to county services and information.
Police Field Days: Our annual Police field day at the Carey School was a big success. Seven classes of elementary age children rotated through seven stations, learning about marine, winter and fire safety. In addition to the Carey QRU tanker and ambulance, BCSO provided boating safety information, water rescue exercises and demonstration of our marine patrol boat, two snowmobiles with beacon and probe demonstrations, and our patrol and SERT vehicles. The children were very inquisitive and enjoyed learning what we do. They had an opportunity to sit in vehicles and try on uniforms and learn valuable safety information. It was a great day for the kids to positively interact with law enforcement and get to know the Sheriff’s Office deputies.
New POST Instructors: We are always trying to improve how our deputies perform their jobs. We have made it a priority to provide the best training for our staff while being fiscally responsible and reducing liability. One way we continue to accomplish this improvement is by adding certified instructors to our staff. This year we are adding two new instructors; Deputy Steven Hansen as an Arrest Techniques (AT) instructor and Deputy Josh Pritchard as an Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) instructor. Having our own certified instructors who can train our own personnel allows us to ensure that all our staff is well trained and up to date on current techniques at minimal investment.
Bullet Proof Vests: For the second year, we were awarded the BPV grant which pays 50% of the cost of our Bullet Proof Vests. This has helped us maintain our current rotation of Body Armor and has saved the County $7,000 over two years.