Jesse B. Gill, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/20/2011 03:35:45 PM PDT

San Bernardino County’s sheriff said the department’s budget could soon see tough times, but he’s determined to keep the impact from reaching the streets.

Sheriff Rod Hoops said he is concerned about the department’s financial future. It’s not yet clear what kinds of cuts the department will have to make in the next fiscal year, but some kind of cuts are almost certain.

Regardless of how much the department will need to cut, Hoops said he will do everything he can to keep the cuts away from the men and women in uniform patrolling the streets.

“The last area of impact will be our line-level operations,” he said. “When it comes to the general operations of law enforcement services, the patrol deputy is the most important thing we do.”

But the cuts are coming and they have to come from somewhere, he said. That means the department’s upper command staff will likely be the place where the savings will be found.

As captains and deputy chiefs retire across the department, their positions won’t be filled until the department’s fiscal outlook improves, Hoops said.

The department’s turnover is consistent. It loses about 60 employees at different ranks every year. It also loses “four or five” captains and a few deputy chiefs each year, Hoops said.

And Hoops plans to use that turnover to make the necessary cuts to the department’s budget.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to avoid layoffs,” he said. “We’re confident that we can do it by attrition alone.”

The department released 2010 crime statistics last week, showing a six percent dip in crime across all of its jurisdictions.

“We’ve never had it where the economy and the crime rate goes down at the same time,” he said.

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