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TRUMBULL COUNTY Budget cuts, layoffs to short sheriff's staff, reduce service



Published: Tue, March 4, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Only two deputies will be on the road at any one time after the layoffs.

& lt;a href=mailto:siff@vindy.com & gt;By STEPHEN SIFF & lt;/a & gt;

and PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Starting this weekend, some calls for help to the Trumbull County Sheriff's Department will no longer be answered.

Though deputies will always be available for domestic disputes, felonious assaults and other major crimes, planned layoffs at the department will mean they will no longer be able to come out for less-serious crimes like petty theft or vandalism.

Victims will be able to fill out reports over the telephone for insurance purposes, said Sheriff Thomas Altiere.

"We will not be able to answer some nonemergency calls," Altiere said. "It all depends on how tied up we are."

"If somebody's life is in danger, we will definitely be there," he added.

Some callers won't even able to get a dispatcher for nonemergency calls, said Tim Gladis, 911 director.

Since his department is going to lose nine employees, Gladis said nonemergency calls will be answered by voice mail. He said employees will then answer the calls when time permits.

Layoff notices have been sent to 47 employees at the 142-person sheriff's department. Only two deputies will be on the road at any one time after the layoffs go into effect Friday. Now, three or four deputies are on patrol each shift.

The sheriff's department is the primary law enforcement agency for 42,000 residents who live in parts of the county that have no or minimal police protection.

The layoffs trim $1.1 million from the department's 2003 bottom line -- only a fraction of the $2.5 million sheriff's department budget cut that county commissioners said was necessary without a tax increase.

Commissioners approved a 0.5-percent sales tax increase last week, but have not yet said how that will change departmental budgets. Commissioners could not be reached to comment.

Here's the plan

To save $1.1 million, the sheriff plans to lay off 35 jailers, five clerks, six deputies and a cook. To make up for the departures, the sheriff has dissolved the detective division and put plainclothes officers back into uniform. At least 10 road deputies will be moved to the jail.

To ease the crunch at the jail, Altiere proposes to resume housing federal inmates if the county commissioners allow the payments from the federal government to be earmarked for jail expenses.

For the last several years, the county jail has housed up to 45 federal inmates at a time, reaping about $700,000 a year for the county. The money has gone into the county's general fund, controlled by commissioners.

In anticipation of the layoffs, Altiere stopped the program. If there are severe cutbacks, his first responsibility is to hold inmates sent by local judges, he said.

If the money from the federal inmates were allowed to be used strictly for jail expenses, it would allow 25 jailers to keep their jobs, and fund about another 20 beds for local inmates, he said.

Altiere asked local judges to release more than 60 nonviolent offenders by the time layoffs occur.




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