The recent conflict within the BCSO resulted in a vote of no confidence from the Sheriff’s Deputies Association, but a vote from some Deputies does not mean that I will not continue to move forward and lead 274 of the best law enforcement officers in this state. Transition and change is difficult. Accountability is difficult. But change and accountability is what I promised the citizens in Bernalillo County and I am committed to that every day.
Bernalillo County experienced 19% percent in population growth from 2000 to 2010. Despite this, BCSO had fewer deputies patrolling neighborhoods in 2012 than in 1993. That is fewer than 114 in the patrol division. This was not acceptable. I implemented a squad system with the intention of providing more law enforcement in the field. Our number is now 128 in the field. The goal is to reach 137. This number will allow us to account for sick leave and training, maintain minimal over time hours and minimum staffing requirements and still continue to provide service to the public. The argument that deputies now have to work Saturday and Sunday is not acceptable. Criminals do not take the weekend off.
The new installation of GPS tracking devices on all county vehicles has also been a point of contention for union members. While this was not my initiative, I have fully supported the County Manager in this program. Last year BCSO had 56 vehicle crashes. This cost tax payers $350,000. Not only will the GPS system provide greater safety and security to our deputies, it will also require that they be accountable for their time and driving behavior. This is not popular, but it is what the public deserves. The union president recently stated that the biggest concern from one union member was that he would not be able to go home early after a hard day of work. That is not an acceptable argument against GPS. I have insured that appropriate security measures are taken to protect personal information and will work with County Legal to protect the deputies as the law allows.
BCSO is full of dedicated and hard working men and women. I have listened to their feedback and I have committed to give my Command Staff full authority to utilize their expertise and experience. I acknowledge that no matter how good my intentions may be, I must not interfere with the ability for them to do their job. I have never stated that I do not trust my captains. I will provide the Union’s Q &A and other information that is requested from the public. I am committed to transparency and will address problems in the flow of accurate information from the deputies to the highest ranking supervisors. BCSO will move forward and energy will be focused on law enforcement that will benefit the people of this community. The changes may not be popular with some in the department, but my number one priority is to serve the citizens of Bernalillo County.
SHERIFF DAN HOUSTON
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