Your Bureaucrat Beat report on Friday reported, “Law enforcement acencies in the Eastern Sierra have 24 hour patrol, but not the Mono County Sheriff’s Dept. Some citizens in Bridgeport are wondering, what about us. The finger points clearly at Sheriff Scholl”.
With the political season upon us, canidates for the various elected offices make promises that are difficult if not impossible to keep, and 24 hour patrol in Mono County is one of the suggested promises for the Office of Sheriff.
Having been a member of the Board of Supervisors for 6 years and Sheriff-Coroner for 12 years with a total of 32 years serving the citizens and visitors of Mono County, I would like to provide some input on this specific subject. There are 2 main components to 24 hour patrol in Mono County. The first is money, which equates to more personnel and equipment. The second issue is Politics. 5 members on the Board that represent 5 different geographic areas, and at least 11 different and distinct communities throughout our 3103 square miles.
The process is pretty straight forward. Sheriff presents the Sheriff’s Department budget proposal to the Board to include 24 hour patrol which I would estimate at an additional million dollars plus to the operations budget of the Sheriff’s Department. With about 5% private property tax base for the largest portion of the general fund revenues to provide the various local government services and with public safety grants from the federal and state agencies going away, stable funding is scarce.
Enter the policial side of the issue and the 5 Board members that would like 24 hour patrol in each of their communities.
So where does the Sheriff assign the patrol units without getting into a political fire fight with not only the Board members, but the public we serve? If you were lucky to field 2 units for the midnight shift, where do you assign them? I can tell you that when a unit is patrolling or on a call in Crowley there will be a call for service in June Lake or Benton or vice versa. To my knowledge the CHP recently started 24 hour patrol in our County and it is my understanding that they require a unit to be doubled up after 10:30 PM for officer safety which is an added expense to field 1 unit.
All of the law enforcement agencies our area are streched pretty thin and officer safety is on the mind of everyone in the business constantly. Public safety service is a constant process of assessing risk versus benefit for the personnel doing the job. Whether it is our volunteers on search and rescue or deputies, police officers, and CHP personnel risking their lives sometimes on a daily basis.
So when the public starts pointing their finger, in this case at Sheriff Scholl for not providing 24 hour patrol, get out your check book and start pointing your finger at your Board of Supervisor member that represents your community. Additonally, campaign promises are easy to make but are often more complex to implement.
Sheriff-Coroner , Retired