SALISBURY – Officials with the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office made their requests for additional deputies, vehicles and more at a budget work session this week.
On Tuesday, representatives with the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office came before the Wicomico County Council to make their case for additional funding in fiscal year 2019.
The proposed $151 million budget includes nearly $13 million – $7.9 million in salaries, more than $769,000 in operating expenses, $4,000 in one-time operating expenses and $412,800 in capital expenses – for the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office.
Capt. Todd Richardson told the council the sheriff’s department was seeking a three-percent increase in its operating budget for the coming fiscal year to cover the costs of building maintenance and state-mandated bullet-proof vests. The department has also requested funding for four new deputy positions and eight new vehicles.
“Only two deputies have made it to your desk,” he said.
To assist with the increased costs, Richardson said the department had decreased its capital expense budget by $167,000 and reduced the number and cost of the vehicles. In recent years, the Sheriff’s Office had requested 15 cars during the annual budget process. This year, they are asking for eight.
“In order to reduce the cost of these vehicles we are also doing a pilot program of going with the V6 Charger, which is a less expensive vehicle,” he said. “Also, because these vehicles will be used primarily to replace vehicles in the school fleet, they won’t need some of the additional equipment.”
By stripping the cars of radar units, in-car cameras and other equipment, Richardson said cost of each car will decrease from $54,000 to $38,000.
Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis said the new vehicles would be used by student resource officers who are stationed at the schools.
“In the last 10 school shootings, we’ve lost 128 children in this country,” he said. “We can’t help but think about these old, dilapidated, 13-year-old cars with 200-something thousand miles on it sitting in front of our schools. Quite frankly, we will not be able to respond across the county to other schools in the event we have an active shooter situation.”
Lewis said new cars would send a positive message to citizens.
“It’s time that we present an image to our county that we are ready and able to defend our schools and respond to other schools in the county,” he said.
Councilman Joe Holloway questioned how the vehicles would be utilized.
“When school is out, will these cars be used?” he said.
Lewis noted the vehicles would be stationed at the movie theater, athletic events and various weekend activities at the schools.