Published: 29 March 2012 07:18 PM

Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff asked county supervisors Thursday for more money in next fiscal year’s budget so he can hire deputies to patrol unincorporated areas, where he said crime is rising.

The ratio of deputies assigned to areas outside of cities has dropped from 1.2 deputies per 1,000 residents in 2009 and 2010 to 0.90 per 1,000 today.

That ratio is projected to slip to 0.75 per 1,000 by this summer, Sniff said. Fifty deputies have left the department this fiscal year, and 50 more are expected to leave this summer on top of almost 130 retirements, Sniff told the Board of Supervisors during a special hearing on the 2012-13 budget.

The department has been reducing the number of deputies to cut costs.

Sniff said preliminary numbers his department is reporting to the FBI show an increase in violent and property crimes in unincorporated areas around Hemet, Perris, Lake Elsinore, Cabazon, Palm Desert, Indio and Blythe. Assaults with deadly weapons and burglaries also are up in unincorporated parts of southwest Riverside County, he said.

In addition, response times are starting to lag in the unincorporated areas, Sniff said.

“As far as the public’s concerned, we need to start aiming at getting the staffing back up,” he said. Sniff asked for $4 million in the coming budget to add 50 new deputies.

Despite a projected $5.5million deficit last summer, the Sheriff’s Department now is expected to end the fiscal year June 30 with a surplus of at least $1 million, Sniff said. He said that was a result of cutting patrols in unincorporated areas and making jail operations more efficient.

If supervisors are inclined to add deputies, they should do so as soon as possible, since it would take at least 18 months to recruit and train the new people, Sniff said.

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