BURLEY — The Cassia County Sheriff’s Office spends 57 percent of its patrol hours in Burley, according to a new report that marks the first time the office has broken down where deputies spend their time.
The report is significant.
The sheriff’s office has contracted for years to provide police services for the city, but that arrangement nearly broke down two years ago when the city and county couldn’t agree on how much Burley should pay the county for police services. In 2015, a citizen’s committee recommended that the sheriff’s office continue policing the city, but part of the new contract included the sheriff’s office having dedicated patrol officers assigned to Burley and tracking how many patrol hours are used citywide.
The new report was met with praise from the city.
“I’m pleased with the trend and tenor of where we’re headed,” Councilman John Craner said. “Now we have measurements and can stop pointing fingers back and forth.”
The report covers only 10 months through the end of October. Due to a technical problem, the office didn’t record November or December.
The report shows 17,674 patrol hours in Burley during the time frame and 13,389 in the county. The busiest months for patrol in the city were January, February and March. The busiest in the county were August, July and May.
All told, deputies responded to 23,975 calls for service with 17,589 calls originating in Burley and North Burley. Countywide, deputies made 1,274 arrests and 5,848 traffic stops, issued 1,713 citations and filed 2,683 reports.
The sheriff’s office has assigned 14 patrol officers to the city and six to the county, Undersheriff George Warrell said.
The current contract calls for the city to pay the county $1.55 million.
Warrell said fines and forfeitures were up this year — not because officers were writing more tickets but because the number of officers on staff stayed up. Warrell said the office was able to bump up wages a bit to make them more competitive, which resulted in less deputy turnover. The office is fully staffed now with the exception of one dispatch position. The jail is down two officers, an unusually low vacancy rate.
Moving forward, the staffing report is likely to remove some of the doubt and finger-pointing that jeopardized previous negotiations.
Craner, the city councilman, said the city “won’t be walked on” or “hoodwinked” and is willing to continue working with the county.