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Impacts of county budget on detention facility’s intake process affects public safety



Washoe County Sheriff deputies and other regional law enforcement personnel are now required to spend more time off the streets when processing arrests at the Sheriff’s Office detention facility due to the significant reduction in detention facility operation staff necessary to meet budget cuts placed on the Sheriff’s Office.

“Fewer personnel make for a slower process,” Assistant Sheriff Lisa Haney said. “If our patrol deputies are required to spend more time in the detention facility as part of the booking process, that means less deputies on patrol.”

Over the past five years, the Sheriff’s Office has eliminated 106 staff positions. These low staffing levels contribute to additional delays at the intake station as supervisors must prioritize in favor of covering more critical positions within the detention facility.

“We’ve already been pushed to the tipping point,” Haney said. “Additional cuts to the Sheriff’s Office budget will seriously jeopardize our ability to meet federal mandates that require us to operate a safe and secure detention facility, and continue to decrease the amount of time our deputies are on the street fighting crime.”

The intake process ensures inmates are legally, securely and safely booked into the detention facility. The process includes positive identification of the arrestee, fingerprinting, background checks, a medical examination and review of the deputy’s Arrest Report and Proclamation of Probable Cause.

Arresting officers may be delayed up to two hours depending on the number of arrests being processed at any given time. Factors such as uncooperative or combative arrestees and unscheduled changes to daily staffing levels lead to additional delays.

Officers must remain at the detention facility to assist with the accurate completion of the intake process. Detention staff realizes the importance of getting the officers back on the street as quickly as possible. Processes have been streamlined and consolidated where appropriate while still providing for the safety and security of the facility, inmates and employees.

“As budget reductions continue and staff is required to take on even more additional duties, it creates an environment ripe for mistakes” said Haney. “Our resources will be spread so thin that it will create a domino effect that will negatively impact all law enforcement and increase liability to the taxpayer.”

Residents with concerns are encouraged to contact their county commissioner or the Washoe County Manager’s Office.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office celebrated 150 years of proud service and community partnership in 2011. Sheriff Michael Haley is the 25th person elected to serve as the sheriff of Washoe County. His office continues to be the only full service public safety agency operating within northern Nevada and is responsible for operating the consolidated detention facility, regional crime lab, Northern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center, Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, court security, service of civil process, traditional street patrols and Regional Animal Services.

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