Voters sorting through Sheriff Pierini’s re-election campaign communications should be aware of some inconsistencies.
Regarding sheriff’s candidate David Brady’s commitment to seek professional department accreditation, Sheriff Pierini’s campaign website quotes him as saying: “Rest assured the Sheriff’s Office most definitely has not only national accreditation but also employs a meticulous risk management process. Our county jail is accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.”
But the sheriff omitted that the accreditation was forced by a federal lawsuit and a grand jury investigative report that was brought due to deficiencies in the jail operations. That accreditation applies only to the jail, not the entire department.
Mr. Brady is advocating an operational audit of the entire department and full departmental accreditation by a nationally recognized law enforcement organization to ensure adequate training, improved officer safety, and a higher level of professional service to the citizens of Douglas County.
Mr. Brady has pointed out that despite a five-fold increase of the sheriff’s budget since 1986, DCSO fields the same number of patrol cars now as it did then: three in the valley, two at the lake. In his website self-interview, the sheriff responds: “Nine deputies are deployed during each of three 10 hour shifts”. But in a May 5 statement to The Record-Courier, the sheriff said that DCSO fields “six officers … in each shift 24 hours a day,” which would include one supervisor, consistent with Mr. Brady’s statement. Which is it, Sheriff Pierini?
School Resource Officers, for example, aren’t available for street patrol. The sheriff’s claim that the 10 hour shifts “provide an overlap for each shift …” during which “… the number of deputies on patrol will double” ignores the paperwork and other administrative duties deputies must perform during shift change.
In the same R-C interview, the sheriff said improving the department’s technology helped offset “the impact from the loss of $2 million in the annual budget”. But a year over year analysis shows that the DCSO budget doubled since 1999, dipping only once, by $226,127, from 2012 to 2013.
As to Sheriff Pierini’s website statement that: “… we enjoy a very tenured and experienced work force, so many personnel are at or near the top of their salary range,” that’s certainly true at the command level. As the sheriff said in his newspaper interview, he is “possibly the most senior person in the Public Employee Retirement System”. Salary and benefits for just the sheriff and his five top command staff are costing county taxpayers about $1 million per year.
The incumbent seems to have a credibility issue. The voters have a right to learn why the county’s law enforcement budget funding has ballooned so sharply while patrol resources remain static, and to decide for themselves if they’re being overcharged for public safety.