THE BLOG
07/01/2013 01:59 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2013

FACT CHECK: Public Safety Not Properly Funded in Wayne County

I have been committed to protecting the citizens of Detroit and Wayne County for the past 38 years. As Sheriff, public safety is the top priority.

Since my appointment to Sheriff in 2009, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office has cut more than $30 million from the budget without placing public safety at risk. These actions include:

  • Expanded tether use from 50 inmates to more than 500 non-violent inmates, saving the county more than 27 million annually, driving cost down from 145 daily to 20 daily.
  • Reinstituted the job pool by expanding to 17 participants annually from zero, which are part-time employees at lower wages with no benefits to fill-in for correctional officers on leave or vacation, resulting in $843,856 annual savings.
  • Restructured jail food services by reducing per meal cost by 31 percent from $2.25 to $1.56 and realigned staff, which led to $3.1 million annual savings.
  • Consolidated inmates in Division III to reduce the number of deputies required for security in the jail system that led to a $968,664 annual savings.
  • Realigned the parks patrol function from 14 full-time employees to three, saving $1.6 million annually.
  • Proposed another $7 million in cuts and operational changes that does not compromise public safety.

Recently, there have been unprecedented attacks on the Wayne County Sheriff's Office budget jeopardizing our public safety -- pointing fingers at me when I have no elected authority to approve budgets, millages and bond sales.

The county's executive and legislative branches have inadequately funded the jail for nearly four decades. This is now a larger public safety issue as both the Sheriff's and Prosecutor Offices' budgets are slashed even further in order to address the countywide budget deficit. Inadequately funding the jail causes the very overruns that are often criticized:

  • We are mandated by the state and federal governments to house, feed, clothe and provide medical attention to each inmate in the county jail.
  • Funding that operation for 1,800 inmates when there is an average of 2,800 inmates creates a structural deficit. This leaves three options: adequately fund the operation, allow violent criminals to go free or force the Sheriff's Office to have budget overruns.
  • Increasing the jail population by keeping the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office underfunded. Prosecutors can't take cases to court, creating a reality where inmates remain in custody longer, further driving up jail costs.

This situation, coupled with the outrageous cost overrun of the new consolidated jail, is indicative of Wayne County government's lack of planning, budgeting and project management. If the Wayne County jail system was adequately funded, the result would be at least a $30 million surplus going back to the county coffers due to my cost cutting measures.

In the case of the new jail, how do you ask the residents of Wayne County to pay for a new jail without knowing the full cost? Further, how do you then exclude furnishings, fixtures, equipment and technology? Of course, the logical result is cost overruns.

I was shut out of key decisions, although my office would be the end user. As a result, the design is too small and still would not meet the needs of the inmate population.

Blame is consistently shifted to me as Sheriff, although I have no elected authority in approving budgets or bond proposals.

Residents and businesses' are being placed at risk when the county executive and commissioners, who approve the budgets, act in this manner:

  • Inadequately fund the Wayne County Jail at 40 percent of the necessary cost to secure 2,800 inmates (including those on tether).
  • Seemingly endorse the dangerous drugs and guns trade on our streets, as well as prostitution, by defunding the narcotics and morality divisions.
  • Potentially disband the county's only law enforcement unit by proposing to eliminate road and marine patrols, internal affairs, Internet crimes unit and dispatch/communication services.

Every elected official has a sworn duty to protect citizens. Again, public safety is my priority.

In a county where crime and public safety is every taxpayer's primary concern, why would any elected official not properly fund the most important service the county provides during a time when crime and public safety is a top concern for every resident and business?

Decisions related to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office budget need to be made based on the public safety needs of the county. As elected officials, we must collaborate for the betterment of our county. I will not allow politics to get in the way of providing the law enforcement services that are essential to Wayne County residents and businesses.