Monday, May 12, 2008

California's 10% Across-the-Board Budget Cut May Hit Rural Law Enforcement Hardest

This article in the Sacramento Bee explores a recent proposal to end state assistance to law enforcement in California's 37 least populated counties. In Glenn County, population 26,453 and 1327 square miles, only two sheriff's deputies are available to patrol the county in the early morning. According to the article, Glenn County Sheriff Sgt. Jim Miranda put it this way, "I have one who covers the north and one who covers the south. Now, is that acceptable for anywhere? If I'm out here in the middle of the night at 4 o'clock in the morning on a car stop and my closest backup is 20 minutes away, I mean, how much can I enforce? Even if I wanted to?" Now, because of Gov. Schwaerzenegger's propsed ten percent across the board state budget cut, California's rural law enforcement assistance may be about to end. That added up to $500,000 for Glenn County. California State Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill has claimed his caucus will fight to preserve the assistance program in part because rural counties have come to rely on it so much. Without, it's unclear how badly rural law enforcement will be affected, but Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones claimed, "[p]ublic safety would be in dire jeopardy if further inroads were made into my budget."

1 comment:

Lisa R. Pruitt said...

This reminds me of a conversation I had this past week-end with a resident in a moderately rural part of El Dorado County. A former resident of the OC, he was speaking about the division of labor among law enforcement forces near Pleasant Valley. He noted that while some Placerville cops might live in the area, most of the law enforcement is done by state troopers. The county sheriff and deputies, he said, are primarily for things like chasing bears -- oh, and dealing with the occasional murder.

Jeff's post also reminds me of the role of the Arkansas State Trooper in my home town in NW Arkansas. He was an important supplement to the limited county sheriff's dept.

Finally, I've learned something else about state troopers in my current research on domestic violence in rural communities. It is that these officers tend to be less socially enmeshed in such communities, and so they are more effective/less biased than more "local" police in dealing with such sensitive crimes.