“I ask for volunteers from the commission to come and ride with one of my deputies while they drive 100 miles per hour to get to a call where someone is in distress and needs our help,” Hughes said. He was appearing before the elected panel during budget hearings for FY 2014 that begins October 1. He said none of the county lawmakers took him up on the offer.
“We have seven cars with over 200,000 miles on them, 24 with over 150,000 miles and an additional 20 have mileage exceeding 100,000,” Hughes said. He’s hoping the commission will allocate funds to purchase ten new patrol cars at a cost of $27,000 each not including add-ons such as computers, sirens, and law blue lights.
Hughes notes Houston County is growing and now has an estimated population of 105,000—a figure that may be low. He said that represents only a portion of those that are here at any given time. Many others travel through the county going to and from vacation and other destinations, he said.
The sheriff is also requesting six additional deputies noting that the rural population---the area his office primarily serves---is growing at a fast pace. “There has been no funding for additional deputies in the eight years I’ve been in office,” Hughes said. He said six hires would give him an extra officer per shift.
He has been able to help offset—to some degree----what he calls the shortage of manpower by hiring retired law enforcement on a part time basis. He also has a small number of unpaid reserve officers that are certified and able to have the same powers as full time deputies.
The commissioners won’t vote on a budget until late this summer.