Sheriff needs added funding, not talk

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 26, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

Homeland Security. In the days following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, the phrase became the buzz phrase of choice.

Almost everything our government does must pass the homeland security test: Does this hurt our homeland security? Will it help it?

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We've all heard lots of talk about homeland security. Travelers among us have seen bits of it in airport terminals all across the country.

Beefed up security is almost everywhere in our lives.

But where is the beefed up funding?

While homeland security is much-talked about, it is still little funded.

Take for example Lawrence County.

You probably won't see many Transportation Security Association agents roaming through the county since our only airport is largely for recreational use.

But what you can see is something much more troubling.

The county sheriff, the highest law enforcement officer in the county, must resort to almost begging the county for additional funding.

At times, we believe our county courthouse has more security officers guarding it than our sheriff has patrolling the entire county.

Last year, the sheriff approached commissioners seeking a portion of the county's half-cent sales tax, which is set aside for emergency services.

The sheriff intends to use the funds to hire two additional deputies, a clerk and a dispatcher, along with other upgrades including new cruisers.

Time has passed, yet little has been done. The sheriff's office is understaffed, given the size and geography of our county. Imagine having two serious incidents in opposing ends of the county. With limited manpower, the chance of a minor incident becoming deadly is greatly increased.

We urge county leaders to provide additional funding for the sheriff before something happens that we all regret.