Durham Sheriff: Cuts would include officers

DURHAM The City of Durham has asked county departments and the sheriff's office to present next year's budget requests with a 10 percent reduction. That request promtpted Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill to respond by writing a letter to county officials.

Sheriff Hill sent a letter to county commissioners and Durham County Manager Michael Ruffin last month responding to the 10 percent budget cut proposal.

He points out the Durham County Sheriff's Office would have to slash its $30 million budget by $3 million.

After efforts to identify and begin cutting costs immediately, the Sheriff says less than one-third of the budget needs can be met with operational cuts. Therefore, additional savings would have to come from a cut in personnel and community services.

Sheriff Hill says more than 40 officers would have to be laid off, reducing staff to what it was 10 years ago.

The following units, according to Hill, would have to be trimmed or eliminated: Warrant Control Center, Truancy Program, TRIAD, Domestic Violence, School Resource Officers, Gangs, Juvenile Probation and Narcotics Investigations.

A loss in officers would also force the department to withdraw its participation in the FBI Violent Crime task force, the State Homeland Security task force, the Eno Festival security and the Governor Highway Sate Campaigns such as Booze It & Lose It, Click It or Ticket, R U Buckled and No Need 2 Speed.

Sheriff Hill says the decision to propose such cuts has been the most difficult decision he's ever had to make during his 15 years as sheriff.

"When people are worried about the economy, crime rise," Hill wrote in his letter. "Is this the time to reduce law enforcement presence in the community?"

Sheriff Hill went on to urge county commissioners to keep public safety high on their priority list.

He closed the letter by saying, "As always, I remain committed to serving the staff of this agency and citizens of Durham County in the most fiscally responsible manner without jeopardizing public safety."

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