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Island County sheriff warns that budget cuts will hurt patrols

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown is warning that a proposed 4.5 percent cut in the budgets for the county's law and justice programs may mean a reduction in police patrols.

In a letter to citizens sent Wednesday, Brown said that a $188,500 cut in his department would prompt the sheriff to look for cuts in patrols, a reassignment of employees, cuts in staff in non-emergency response areas, and further reductions in training.

"While it is the prerogative of the county commissioners I believe it further jeopardizes public and employee safety in Island County," Brown wrote.

County commissioners are trying to close a $1.2 million budget gap for 2010. Previous suggestions for solving the budget dilemma have included across-the-board cuts of 8 percent or reductions in funding for senior services, WSU-Extension programs and other non-mandated programs.

In the letter, Brown noted that commissioners had suggested 4.5 percent in cuts to all law-and-justice programs yesterday, and Brown continued to press commissioners to cut the budget for non-mandated programs.

"I am convinced that our county commissioners have been unable to realize what our citizens and my employees already know; law and justice is the most essential functions of government which is mandated by law and should not be competing for funding with non-mandated entities or organizations," he wrote. "Current funding and staffing levels are already less than adequate, and further cuts to law and justice should not be made."

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