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Mon, Sep 01, 2014 07:30 PM
Issue of August 27, 2014
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Sheriff request should be received favorably


My Opinion


February 12, 2014 | 09:26 AM

Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye provided rock-solid data last week to the Harrison County Board of Commissioners to support the addition of a least a couple new police officers.

Seelye's official request, with a cost estimate and number of officers, will be presented Tuesday at the commissioners' next meeting. It would then have to be passed on to the county council for approval.

Question of the Week
Do you think Harrison County needs additional police officers?
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The additional officer positions, if the commissioners and county council agree to fund them, should come with a stipulation that, if the county no longer receives riverboat gaming funds sometime in the future, then the positions will be re-evaluated.

As it stands, the county as a whole budgets more money than non-riverboat funding can support. So, if the riverboat goes away, basically everything in the budget will be back on the table, although county leaders had the foresight to create a community fund at the Harrison County Community Foundation to help fund county government if the boat goes away. The fund has grown to $68 million as of last week.

The council has an unwritten rule of not adding any personnel except at budget time (late summer/early fall). And since, if approved, this would greatly effect this year's budget, I would have no problem with the council waiting until that time to officially hire and provide funding for the officers, meaning the positions could be filled on Jan. 1, 2015.

Seelye said that, since 1996, the department has only grown by one officer, from 21 to 22 (including the sheriff and chief deputy). So, while the manpower increase has been minimal, the demand has skyrocketed.

Since 2000, the runs for service have increased 142 percent, from about 9,000 per year to 23,000-plus in 2013. The county's population continues to grow, from 29,890 in 1990 to 34,325 in 2000 and 39,364 in 2010.

Since Seelye took office on Jan. 1, 2011, overall arrests are up 20 percent; arrests for selling drugs are up 1,000 percent; burglaries, 130 percent; and thefts, 77 percent.

The number of dispatchers relaying the information from the public to the officers has grown from eight to 12.

All of this data is hard to ignore.

The sheriff has a history of trying to save the county money one way or another since he took office, so that, combined with the overwhelmingly supportive data, should lead to a positive vote when the time comes from both the board of commissioners and county council to add to the county's police force.

Twitter: @rossschulz

  1. print email
    February 14, 2014 | 10:53 PM

    Drug arrests up 1000% in 3 years? Sounds like we could save a lot of precious time of our current officers by enforcing laws which when broken have victims.

    Mike
  2. print email
    More Police Officer
    February 14, 2014 | 11:22 PM

    I feel that Harrison County definitely needs more Police Officers. The Sheriff's department operates 24/7 which is 3 shifts a day and I don't think 20 Officers is sufficient to patrol. I believe we should be able to provide the police presence and most definitely the protection. The Officer that was involved in the chase the other night and then almost rundown and he had to discharge his weapon show that 2 Officers per vehicle for safety's sake on late watch or whatever shift the Sheriff thinks is necessary would be an awesome asset to the department.

    Carolyn Creal
  3. print email
    under staffed based on National Average.
    February 17, 2014 | 12:15 PM

    Based on the National average of 22 Police Officers per 10,000 Citizen capita; Harrison county is understaffed. If Harrison County is almost 40K citizens, then the Police department is not even at half strength. This would in my opinion force officer to work a lot of overtime, thus creating a higher cost for the time and half pay. It would be a good business practice to hire more officers to offset the overtime cost and get our county closer to the national average. I want my family protected during times of duress and you should too. When our county grows in size it will attract more to its vulnerabilities.



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