Deputies spread thin, county wants grant to hire additional help
There's a federal grant available for two additional deputies for the Sheriff's Department - with some strings attached.
The Community Oriented Policing (COPS) money is good for three years of federal funding, but after that the county would have to pick up the tab. That would be somewhere between $130,000 and $140,000 in the fourth year, according to County Clerk Robert Pero.
That figure raised some eyebrows and some questions from commissioners. Namely, in the words of Commissioner Jae Potter, "I'm concerned about adding to the workforce when the population isn't increasing."
Sheriff James Cordova had a two-part answer:
First, while the permanent head count in the county is holding steady, the need for increased patrolling in the outlying areas is growing. He said deputies now have to spend much more time than before in Nine Mile Canyon and Scofield. Tourism and energy development have increased temporary population in terms of visitors and workers in the canyon area, while new home construction around Scofield has added population there.
The second reason is more unsettling: Internet crimes against children.
According to Cordova and County Attorney Investigator Will Draughon, Carbon's problem of predators stalking children on the Internet is worse than most places, maybe the worst in the state.
Draughon said abuse has "grown exponentially" since the advent of the Web, and Carbon County for some reason is particularly vulnerable. For that reason, law enforcement has to be more active than reactive in dealing with the situation, he declared.
the advent of the Web, and Carbon County for some reason is particularly vulnerable. For that reason, law enforcement has to be more active than reactive in dealing with the situation, he declared.
"If they (abusers) travel to our community with the intent to have sexual relations with children, we want to arrest them first," he stated.
"There have been 17 prosecutions in two years," Draughon continued. "It's good but it's not all of them."
With the additional deputies from the COPS grant - assuming the county gets it - the specialists who handle Internet police work would have more time to devote to the effort.
It would also keep the county in the running for an Internet Crimes Against Children grant.
The commission authorized an application for the COPS funding.