06/13/08 — Winders asks for eight more deputies

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Winders asks for eight more deputies

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on June 13, 2008 1:49 PM

Wayne County commissioners Thursday had plenty of praise for the job Sheriff Carey Winders and his officers are doing, but held out little hope that the county will come up with almost a half-million dollars for eight new deputies.

In fact, shortly after Winders made his plea during a noon budget work session, County Manager Lee Smith reiterated his position that a hiring freeze will remain in effect for the new budget year.

And commissioners appeared more smitten with how Winders is attempting to develop a pool of potential deputies by offering training and certification opportunities to detention center personnel.

They did appear interested in a state grant that would allow the sheriff to hire a detective sergeant as a gang officer.

A public hearing on the $162.4 million budget will be held Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Also during the session, commissioners heard from Jimmy Edmundson and Dr. Ed Wilson of the Wayne County Development Alliance and health department administrative officer Ken Sterns and nursing director Evelyn Coley.

Edmundson asked for the county to fund a part-time research and marketing specialist to help update and monitor the alliance Web site and to maintain communications with local businesses.

Sterns and Ms. Coley did not make any specific funding requests, but rather used the occasion to remind commissioners of what their department oversees and the numbers of lives it touches.

Winders was accompanied by about a half-dozen officers, one of whom was recording the meeting. When asked about the recording Winders said it was for his Sheriff's Advisory Committee.

Using a PowerPoint presentation to underscore his points, Winders noted that the eight patrol deputies are needed for officer safety, to improve response time and to meet the demands of increased calls and service areas.

"What were once bean fields are now subdivisions and mobile home parks," he said.

Deputies responded to 28,587 calls in 2007, up from 17,327 in 2006, Winders said. From 2000 to 2007, the number of arrests increased from 2,992 to 3,520.

As for population, Wayne County is expected to have 116,693 residents by 2010, ranking 23rd in population in the state. The total does not include Seymour Johnson Air Force Base or the growing migrant population.

A recent survey of Wayne residents indicate that they are concerned about crime and gangs -- particularly in the Grantham, Seven Springs and Dudley communities, Winders said.

Winders also compared his office with that of the Goldsboro Police Dept.

Wayne County has four patrol shifts with eight deputies per shift to cover 557 square miles while serving a population of 66,678.

Goldsboro has four shifts with 15-16 officers per shift to cover 24.8 square miles and a population of 39,043.

Unlike the county, Goldsboro does not have a civil unit since under state law only the sheriff's office is charged with serving civil papers. The square mileage is the same, 557, but the population is 113,329 where civil papers are concerned, Winders said.

Winders said it takes about six months to train a deputy so that even if the board were to approve his request it would be several months before the positions could be filled.

In his presentation, Edmundson told commissioners their money had been "well spent" when they agreed to fund a position to improve communications with existing industries.

He said the new part-time position being sought was expected to prove the same.

Edmundson said the alliance had conducted the Impact Wayne Campaign seeking community support.

"It was a good campaign, but it has tapered off," he said. "No one is there to talk with them (community leaders) to let them know what we are doing and how we are spending money."

That would be the responsibility of the new part-time person, he said. The position would also be responsible for helping update the alliance's outdated Web site.

Edmundson said the Web site is one of the first places that an industrial prospect goes to when considering Wayne County.

Commissioners agreed that the site needed to be updated.

Smith suggested using $25,000 to $35,000 from a $750,000 reserve fund for economic development.

Commissioners appeared to support the request, but took no action.