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Protecting the community, despite devastating cuts

Protecting the community, despite devastating cuts

Sheriff Adam Christianson


POSTED December 30, 2010 9:00 p.m.
The Journal asked Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson to look back at 2010 and ahead for 2011. The following is his perspective on the county’s past and future. 

Q. What successes did the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department have last year?

A. “Success is defined as an event that accomplishes its intended purpose. The men and women of the Sheriff's Department have a team spirit and the ability to overcome any challenge. Our success in public safety is based upon team work, stronger community partnerships and greater collaboration, through enforcement, prevention and education. We've been able to meet the communities demand for our services despite unprecedented fiscal challenges. Our success in protecting the community is because of the people working for the Sheriff's Department who dedicate themselves to serving the community. Continuing to serve the community despite overwhelming fiscal challenges is our biggest success.”

Q. What were the biggest challenges in 2010?

A. “Unprecedented declines in revenue and economic challenge. Public safety is expensive. Generally, it's the single largest cost to a city or county. The Sheriff's Department is a very large, complex organization that provides a variety of services both in general law enforcement and corrections. We are the largest consumer of the County General Fund and monies coming to the county in the form of property tax, sales tax and monies from Proposition 172 are all in unprecedented decline. We must submit a balanced budget and in order to meet that demand with such significant declines in revenue we must reduce our levels of service and staffing. Our biggest challenge will be utilizing the resources we have, deploying them as effectively and efficiently as we can, and still meet the public's demand for a safe community.”

Q. What will be the department’s priorities in 2011?

A. “We have two priority missions moving forward. Answering priority 911 calls for service and keeping the worst of the worst criminal offenders in custody. Many of our prevention and education programs will suffer due to the county's budget deficit. To date, we've lost 25% of departmental staffing, services and funding. Over 100 positions and 21 million dollars have been cut from the Sheriff's Department. With on-going economic uncertainty and the State of California in such fiscal crisis, it's impossible to develop and maintain any short or long term strategies. The State Legislature has made it clear that they want to shift more of the State's responsibility and cost to local government, a move that is irresponsible and further jeopardizes public safety. We're going to have to work together to find solutions to public safety issues recognizing that government's primary responsibility is to protect its citizens. Our number one priority will be to meet the challenges of economic reality and do our very best to protect the community with the resources we have. We have an outstanding team and I know they will be able to achieve our goals.” 

Q. What significant hurdles do you see the sheriff’s department facing in the new year?

A. “As I've already mentioned, our single biggest challenge is adequate sustainable funding and resources. I'm opposed to laying off deputy sheriffs and releasing inmates but faced with an unprecedented budget deficit, we have no other choice. Our elected leaders are going to have to make difficult decisions that are not popular. Despite our disagreement, we must all work together. The Board of Supervisors, city councils, community leaders and others will have to find a more effective and efficient means of delivering services to the community. Our significant hurdle will be adequately protecting the community with limited resources. The community needs to know that our response times to calls for service will increase. There will be calls for service that we're not able to respond to and many non-violent crimes will not be investigated. In an effort to reduce non-priority calls for service and keep deputy sheriffs available for higher priority community needs, we've implemented an on-line reporting system. (www.scsdonline.com) Citizens needing to report crimes such as property crimes with no suspects, witnesses or evidence, may go to our Web site to file a report. Reducing our expenses, streamlining our services and meeting the public's demand for public safety are all significant hurdles but despite those challenges, we will make it work. Over time, the economy will improve and we will recover.”

Q. In one sentence, summarize your outlook for 2011.

A. “Working together, we will do our very best with the resources we have to protect and serve the citizens of Stanislaus County.”

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