22 to be laid offPublished 11:29am Thursday, January 10, 2013
Lawless: Going to be disastrous
Five Lawrence County Sheriff’s road deputies, one part-time corrections officer, one part-time sheriff’s dispatcher and 15 employees from the 911 dispatching center, including the director, have been laid off due to cuts to the 2013 sheriff’s budget.
That now reduces the number of deputies by almost half and the number of dispatchers down to six full-time employees. Fourteen of the laid off 911 employees were part-time.
The notices went out on Wednesday and will be effective on Feb. 22.
On Dec. 20 the Lawrence County Commissioners approved a budget that required an almost 24 percent cut in salary line items for all offices. This left the sheriff’s office with approximately $200,000 less for road deputies’ salaries than was spent in 2012.
The 911 dispatching center, which the sheriff’s office took over last year, was also cut by about $200,000.
“It is going to be disastrous for citizens of the county,” Sheriff Jeff Lawless said. “When they have an emergency there will be limited dispatching service. Officers will have extremely long response time or maybe not show up at all. Our officers’ lives will be put in danger. Now they have no one to back them up when they have a domestic or fight call. They know there will be no backup to help them.”
Before the layoffs, there were two road deputies per shift. With the cuts there may be times when only one deputy will be on the road per shift.
Laid off employees may take the layoff or exercise their bumping rights. That means a deputy may take a corrections or dispatching job, putting a worker with less seniority out of a job.
“I have had less employees than the previous two sheriffs and having to fight crime that has increased,” Lawless said. “Now they cut them even more. My hope is if the finances through the county do come in better than projected that money will be funneled to the sheriff’s office to better protect the people.”