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DO YOU KNOW, THE WCSO?

Since the downturn in the economy in 2008, the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office has attempted to cut costs to save the money of Wakulla County taxpayers whenever possible. The administration has changed, but the message from Sheriff Charlie Creel has remained the same for WCSO staff.

“Do everything you can to get the biggest bang for the buck and cut expenses whenever and wherever possible,” the sheriffs told staff.

FURNITURE AND EQUIPMENT

Wakulla County has been building a new annex building for the WCSO between the Health Department and Wakulla Jail facility. But taxpayers will not be asked to pay for the furniture that will soon be filling the facility.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) awarded the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) to the WCSO with a value of $4,590.

When the sheriff’s office budget was cut, plans to purchase office furniture and equipment with departmental funds were eliminated. The WCSO was forced to continue to use furniture and equipment that is well beyond its service life.

The JAG funds will be used to purchase seven desks and 12 chairs for the annex. The purchases will improve the working conditions for members of the Criminal Investigations Division. Conference room chairs will be purchased for the new annex to facilitate meetings for law enforcement discussions and case investigations.

LAW ENFORCEMENT WEAPONS

Sheriff Charlie Creel has maintained a similar plan for weapons. The WCSO participates in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Excess Property Program.
Any state or local law enforcement agency may participate in the DoD program and Sheriff Creel has authorized the agency to acquire long guns for sworn law enforcement personnel in the agency.
The WCSO recently acquired six rifles for deputies that cost the agency only $100 per weapon. The federal government offers the weapons to law enforcement officials at a greatly reduced price because the property may have been lightly used or is no longer wanted by the federal government. The only requirement is that the sheriff’s office provides an annual report of where the firearm is each year so that the federal government can keep track of the issued weapons.

Two other long guns have been acquired for $1,000 each but the retail value of the weapons is approximately $15,000 each if they were available to the general public. The DoD program allows agencies like the WCSO to acquire equipment for law enforcement purposes when the agency might not otherwise be able to afford the specialized equipment.

ROAD PATROL VEHICLES

The WCSO also puts a great deal of care into the acquisition of road patrol vehicles. The agency staff compared the cost of a Chevrolet Caprice with a Police Package against a Chevrolet Silverado half ton truck.
The WCSO saved more than $2,000 per truck by selecting the Silverado for road patrol over the Caprice. The trucks also offer road patrol deputies more flexibility when responding to tropical storm weather conditions and more room to work out of their office on wheels. The trucks cost $29,489 per vehicle to put into duty while the Caprice is $31,526. The Silverado is also safer for deputies who face a much greater chance of being killed or injured in traffic crashes than they do being shot in the line of duty.

The nine trucks were purchased using One Cent Sales Tax funding. The trucks are expected to remain on the road longer and save in overall maintenance cost. WCSO has 60 vehicles in the road patrol division, school resource officer program, criminal investigations, civil processor, emergency management, litter control, corrections transport and court security. In order to maintain a proper vehicle safety and maintenance cycle, seven to nine vehicles must be purchased each year.

Another appeal of the road patrol trucks is that when they are taken off the road at the end of their service, the vehicle resale value is higher than that of the patrol cars.

LITTER CONTROL

The WCSO Litter Control Unit collected 136,450 pounds of trash in 2013 which includes a contract for picking up litter on state roads and also allows for work crews to pick up on county roads. The total for 2012 was 213,680 pounds while 196,420 pounds of trash was picked up in 2011. Another 201,830 pounds of trash was collected in 2010.

During some months the trash total is less due to a lack of eligible trustees or poor weather conditions. Sheriff Creel entered into an agreement with the Wakulla Correctional Institution to borrow 10 Department of Corrections inmates to assist with the litter collections and county parks maintenance.

WCSO staff has been required to go through a training program at WCI to be eligible to use the DOC inmates five at a time.

CRIME RATE

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) compiles Index Crime statistics annually which include the crimes of murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.
Wakulla County was down 17.7 percent in the total number of index crimes in 2013 when compared to the same time period in 2012. Every index crime statistic went down over the yearly comparison except robbery and aggravated assault which remained at the same level as 2012 and motor vehicle theft which went up from 21 to 23 thefts.

The largest number of index crimes reported in Wakulla County was burglaries and larcenies. Burglaries were down 31.5 percent and larcenies were down 15.2 percent.
“This is just another example of the outstanding work that is being done by the dedicated men and women who care very much about public safety and the quality of life that we have become accustomed to in Wakulla County,” said Sheriff Creel.

 

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