Sacramento County law enforcement leaders ask supervisors for more money

After responding to years of budget cuts, Sacramento County law enforcement leaders said Tuesday they want more money to improve their crime-fighting efforts.

In advance of next month’s county budget hearings, supervisors held a workshop Tuesday to hear from Sheriff Scott Jones, District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and Chief Probation Officer Lee Seale.

Jones, who has a budget of about $400 million, said he needs an additional $7 million to make the department more community-oriented and not simply one that responds to emergencies.

“We just keep jumping around, putting out fires,” Jones said.

Schubert said she needs an additional $754,000 to hire attorneys and investigators and to upgrade technology. Seale said he needs to hire 10 probation officers at a cost of about $1.5 million.

The officials gave presentations that were heavy on general goals but light on budget specifics. Supervisors said they look forward to getting those details.

County Executive Brad Hudson has yet to release his proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, so it’s not clear how much financial ability supervisors have to respond to the law enforcement requests. But Jones and Schubert said the amount they sought Tuesday is above what Hudson had planned to include in their budgets. Seale said he’s awaiting word from Hudson about his proposed increase.

The sheriff proposed far-reaching changes. Since 2008, he said, the department’s field services has seen a 23 percent decrease in personnel. Much of the cuts were to “problem-oriented police” who can spend time in the community addressing specific neighborhood crimes and nuisances, as well as building relationships with residents.

Jones said much of his proposed increased funding would pay for such deputies, as well as supervisors and patrol vehicles. His plan is to move the department to “intelligence-led policing” popularized by big-city departments years ago and now used nationwide.

The model relies heavily on up-to-date and geographic crime data and on deploying deputies in response to trends in the data. Such a system makes it easier to hold deputies, their supervisors and the department accountable, Jones said.

Seale and Schubert said their departments have been stretched by having to meet demands created by recent laws. Those include a 2011 law that gave counties responsibility for lower-level offenders once handled by the state.

A number of social-service advocates encouraged the board to spend on community programs that can reduce crime. David Ramirez of Sacramento Area Congregations Together said mental health, child welfare and other services can curb crime.

“A healthy community requires less policing,” he said.

Some activists also urged the board to spend money on a plan to reduce the disproportionate rate of deaths among African American youths. That plan is aimed at reducing deaths from child abuse, homicide and other problems.

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