Sheriff assigns more deputies to patrol
By TAMARA LUSH
© St. Petersburg Times,
Pasco Sheriff Bob White continues to fulfill his campaign promise to put more deputies on the street.
On Wednesday, White announced staffing changes that will result in the transfer of four deputies and one sergeant to road patrol. Those five officers were in special units.
There are 201 deputies, corporals and sergeants currently on road patrol; when White took office there were about 155.
The new changes, effective this week, include:
Combining the Crimes Against Persons, Crimes Against Children and Domestic Violence units. The employees in those three units will be merged into a Major Crimes Unit composed of two squads, which will investigate all violent crimes. The two squads each will have a sergeant and nine detectives.
Moving three detectives in the Warrants Section to road patrol. A sergeant and four detectives will remain in the warrants unit to find scofflaws and corrections deputies will pick up much of the slack, said Col. Al Nienhuis. More than 70 percent of warrants are served at the county jails, after people are arrested on other offenses or turn themselves in.
Taking three detectives from the Intelligence unit and reassigning them to Vice and Narcotics, where they will work intelligence on drug, gambling and vice cases.
Moving a sergeant and a detective from the Intelligence unit to road patrol. Better technology has allowed for quicker intelligence gathering, thus reducing the need for a large intelligence unit.
There might be more changes within the agency, said Nienhuis, who added that he and White drew from several sources, including a recent $125,000 study, in making their decision.
"All of these decisions were not knee-jerk reactions," Nienhuis said.
Some of the changes were recommended by a consultant who in April released a staffing study of the agency that was commissioned during the tenure of White's predecessor, Lee Cannon. For instance, the study said the Intelligence Unit was overstaffed, and recommended change in the staffing levels. Also, the study noted there is a variation in detective caseload -- something White hopes to fix with the creation of the Major Crimes Unit.
The goal of the changes, said Nienhuis, is to put more deputies on the street.
"They are the front lines," he said. "They have got to react when somebody calls. They're the most important aspect of the sheriff's office -- if there's nobody to respond, then we can't do our job."
- Tamara Lush is the police reporter in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6245.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111