By Ben Montgomery
The North Jefferson News
NORTH JEFFERSON — The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office announced today that it will no longer dispatch deputies to work vehicle wrecks and collisions.
Sheriff Mike Hale said the decision comes in the wake of the death of a bill that would allow the Jefferson County Commission to raise some taxes. Hale said his office has to cut about 20 percent of its budget.
During a press conference and in a letter to Governor Dr. Robert Bentley, Hale said deputies worked approxiamately 5,600 wrecks in unincorporated Jefferson County; each wreck averaged 45 minutes of a deputy's time. Hale also said 86 percent of the the office's budget goes to personnel, and that 145 deputies would have to be cut by October to make up the $3 million missing in this quarter's budget.
The sheriff said his office would refocus their efforts to fighting crime, but would have to reduce the number of patrol routes (or "beats") from 37 to 24; this will affect the Mt. Olive substation's effectiveness, which will have their patrol area widened and reduced from three patrol cars to just one.
Hale said he is counting on the Alabama Department of Public Safety to work the wrecks.