Thecriminal justice system plays a critical role in enhancing the levelof safety in the society. However, there are challenges (such as thelack of adequate financial resources) that limit its ability to meetthe expectations of the people that it serves. These challenges areexperienced in almost all agencies that work under the criminaljustice system. This paper will provide the summary of a news articleaddressing challenges associated with the operating budget of anagency in the criminal justice system.
of the Article
Thearticle “Sheriff’s Office aces budget challenges” was authoredby Jessica Pace and published by the Durango Herald on October 18,2016. The aim of the Pace’s article is to explain the challengesthat the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office has been facing withregard to an increase in the operating expenditure compared to theallocated revenue. According to Pace (2016) the office’s projectedexpenditure for 2017 is expected to be $ 14.8 million. However, theoffice is expected to close the financial year 2016 with about $ 15.2million expenditure. Some of the most significant expenses that aredifficult to operate without include special operations,administration, detentions, and investigation.
Thehead of Sheriff’s Office, Sean Smith, attributed the budgetchallenges to an increase in the population in the city, footpatrols, and a rise in the number of calls. Pace (2016) states thatthe department conducted a total of 24,000 patrols in the year 2015,but they were increased to about 35,000 in 2016 following an increasein the number of calls from residents in need of assistance.
Theoutcome of the scenario in which workload has increased amidst budgetconstraints has been severe to the office of sheriff. There is noincentive for anyone to join the office as a deputy since residentscan earn better when working in other areas compared to the amountthat the agency can offer. For example, deputies who earn about $2.65 per hour when working with the Durango Police earn less thancivilians who are employed in jail (Pace, 2016). These civilians earnbetween 18.09 and $ 22.10 per hour. More challenges are expected inthe next financial year as the head Sheriff’s Office intends toincrease the wage for Police Officer Standards to $ 24.75 and that ofthe uncertified deputies to $ 20 per hour. The increase in wageswill serve as an incentive that will motivate resident to work withthe office of Sheriff, thus reducing the staff shortage. However, theoperating budget will increase exponentially.
WorkingThrough the Specific Budget Issues
Thereare three ways through which the leader of the Sheriff’s Office canaddress the budget issues raised in the article published by Pace.The first solution is a reduction in expenditure. Currently, thecounty sheriff holds a view that the office has to increase itsexpenditure due to a rise in the population size. However, studieshave shown that police departments and other agencies in the justicesystem can maintain efficiency in their operations while reducingavoidable expenses. For example, further recruitment should bestopped, and uncalled for patrols eliminated during the financialcrisis (Haberfeld, 2011). A department that chooses to apply thisapproach should be prepared to address the challenges associated withthe staff shortage by assigning more responsibilities to the currentworkforce.
Secondly,the government agency can apply for more funds to meet expenses thatcannot be avoided. There are specific reasons that Smith, the countySheriff, can use to justify the need for the allocation of more fundsand grants from different sources, such as the federal as well as thestate government. The agency can justify the need for the recruitmentof more qualified deputies by showing that the exponential increasein the staff turnover has resulted from the poor payment and islikely to lead to a rise in the level of insecurity (Haberfeld,2011). Additional funds should be used to meet new expenses, such asan increase in wages per hour and the recruitment of new deputies toreplace those who have left the agency.
Third,the use of technology can help the Sheriff’s Office increasesurveillance and effectiveness in patrols without raising the numberof deputies. This approach will help the agency avoid the cost ofstaffing without reducing the quality of services. For example, anincrease in the number of surveillance cameras has been associatedwith a significant decrease in foot patrols (Jim, 2012). The agencycan monitor cities virtually and attend to different incidentswithout conducting foot patrols in less risky streets. This approachcan go a long way in helping the agency eliminate avoidable expensesand channel more funds to crucial services. Technology should beconsidered as a long-term solution to the issue of financial deficit.
Thelack of adequate funds to meet the operating expenses is a commonchallenge that affects the efficiency of nearly all governmentagencies. In the case of police departments and related agencies, theincrease in the population size inflates their budgets each year.This trend is mainly attributed to the increase in the number ofoperations that are required to maintain the level of security amidsta rise in the distress calls. However, these challenges can beminimized by eliminating avoidable expenses, asking for more funds aswell as grants, and replacing patrol officers with technology.
Haberfeld,M. (2011). Doing more with less. Solutions to Budget cuts toMunicipal Police Departments based on the Meta-Leadership Concepts.Journalfor Police Science and Practice,1, 62-68.
Jim,C. (2012). Beingsmart on crime with evidence-based policing.Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.
Pace,J. (2016, October 18). Sheriff’s Office faces budget challenges.TheDurango Herald.Retrieved November 6, 2016, fromhttp://www.durangoherald.com/article/20161017/NEWS01/161019593/