FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Inquiries: Interactive Professional Media Group
Art Franklin: 678.613.7120 Email: Art@getipmg.com
Birmingham, AL, October 12, 2023 – In the wake of the Jefferson County Commission freezing 30% of the Sheriff’s Office Budget for fiscal year 2024, Sheriff Mark Pettway feels compelled to address the community and express concerns regarding the potential repercussions of such cuts on public safety. The Sheriff firmly believes that we cannot defund law enforcement without risking the safety and security of the residents of Jefferson County.
Our deputies work tirelessly to maintain law and order, ensuring the safety of every citizen. “I acknowledge the need for fiscal responsibility and prudent budget management, but it is crucial to strike a balance between responsible fiscal stewardship and the safety of our community members.” remarked Sheriff Pettway.
The recent budget freeze presents challenges that will impact our ability to provide the level of service that our community has come to expect and deserve.
Here’s what those budget challenges could mean in practical terms:
- Reduced Staffing: We are already understaffed, and the budget freeze will inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of deputies and support staff available to respond to emergencies, investigate crimes, and maintain essential services.
- Personnel Impact: A budget freeze of this magnitude creates a hiring freeze. Effective immediately for FY24, the sheriff’s office cannot fill vacant positions, potentially leading to increased workloads for current staff and possible declines in employee morale and retention.
- Operational Constraints: The budget freeze could mean fewer resources for patrols, investigations, community policing initiatives, and other law enforcement activities.
- Delayed Equipment Upgrades: Maintaining a well-equipped law enforcement agency is essential for public safety. Budget reductions may lead to delays in upgrading equipment and technology which could hinder our ability to respond effectively to various situations.
- Training and Development: Ongoing training and professional development are vital for our deputies to serve our community effectively. Funds typically allocated to professional development, including leadership development and other skill-enhancing programs could be reduced or eliminated. This could impact the Sheriff’s Office’ ability to
maintain current standards of service and decrease effectiveness in handling complex situations.
- Community Outreach: Building trust and strong relationships with our community is a cornerstone of effective law enforcement. A budget freeze may limit our ability to maintain community outreach programs on youth engagement, drug prevention, or neighborhood safety.
- Emergency Response: The budget freeze might impact the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office’s ability to respond to emergencies effectively. For instance, there might be fewer staff available to respond to calls, potentially leading to slower response times.
- Potential Increase in Crime: If the Sheriff’s Office is unable to effectively patrol communities or investigate crimes due to these financial constraints, there could potentially be an increase in crime rates which could lead to heightened community anxiety or frustration.
Sheriff Pettway and the dedicated men and women of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office remain committed to their duty to protect and serve, even in the face of these budgetary challenges. However, it is essential to remember that law enforcement agencies play a critical role in maintaining public safety, and any significant defunding could jeopardize the safety and security of our community. This is especially unfortunate since we have been able to effectively reduce violent crime in Jefferson County by double digits in many areas, under Sheriff Pettway.
In providing transparent communication with the public, Sheriff Pettway is calling on community leaders, elected officials, corporate leaders, the faith-based community, and the public to engage in a constructive dialogue about budget priorities while considering the potential consequences of significant funding reduction to law enforcement. We must find a way to balance our fiscal responsibilities with the safety and well-being of our community.
About the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office:
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Headquarters, in the Birmingham Division, is located at 2200 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., Birmingham. The Birmingham County jail is located just next door on Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd N. Sheriff’s Sub-stations are located in the strategic areas of the county. The Sheriff’s Office is committed to serving and protecting the residents of Jefferson County with a dedicated team of law enforcement professional. We uphold the highest standards of integrity and accountability while striving to create a safe and secure environment for all community members. Sheriff Mark Pettway was named the 2022 National Law Enforcement Executive of the Year. https://jeffcosheriffal.com/