High Desert supervisor protests cuts to public safety
June 17, 2011 8:41 AM
Natasha Lindstrom
Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO • Citing concerns over “extremely troubling” cuts to public safety, 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said he plans to vote against the proposed San Bernardino County budget when it goes up for approval June 28.

“I’m opposed to the budget because of the fact that I believe we’re putting money into things that are not urgent priorities compared to the public safety and law and justice challenges that we have,” Mitzelfelt said by phone Thursday evening.

As the county works to close a $46.6 million deficit, Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux has pitched a budget that eliminates 77 probation and 33 District Attorney’s office positions, defers staffing the Adelanto Detention Center and reduces supplies and services in the Sheriff’s Department.

The budget states that cuts will lead to the “virtual elimination” of the DA’s identity theft unit and diminish prosecutors’ ability to handle family violence, gang and auto theft crimes.

“If you’d have told me a year ago that that is being considered I wouldn’t have believed you,” Mitzelfelt said.

He expressed concerns over a disproportionate amount of vacant deputy positions in unincorporated areas, and cutting back on safety just as Gov. Jerry Brown’s “realignment” plan looks to shift control from the state to county level of some 4,300 inmates.

At the Board of Supervisors’ budget workshop on Thursday, Sheriff Rod Hoops said his department has more than 210 vacant positions, including 90 sworn deputies, and that cuts have forced him to shelve a planned $25 million crime lab.

District Attorney Michael Ramos acknowledged his department was understaffed — he hasn’t hired anyone in three years — and overworked, with nearly 3,000 cases currently backlogged.

To minimize cuts to public safety, Mitzelfelt has proposed dipping into contingency funds and stalling road maintenance and capital improvement projects. He criticized budget allocations of $8 million on a new pavement management program and $15.3 million to repair and modernize county buildings.

Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford argued Thursday that the county has failed at keeping up with capital improvements and that it will cost more in the long run if facilities aren’t kept in shape.

For more about the proposed county budget, read the full story in Friday’s Daily Press. Get complete stories every day with the “exactly as printed” Daily Press E-edition, only $5 per month! Click here to try it free for 7 days. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, 1-800-553-2006 or click here.