ECSO to reduce deputy patrols in low crime neighborhoods
ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WEAR) —
The number of deputies patrolling in low crime areas in Escambia County will be reduced. Sheriff David Morgan said in a YouTube video that he is going to pull deputies from certain districts and relocate them to crime hot spots.
Morgan said the change comes because their force continues to dwindle. So he said he will relocate deputies to places where there is a pattern of crime to make sure deputies in those areas have back up. Morgan said they will use monthly crimes statistics to determine the hot spots.
"The theory here is to prevent the spread of crime from the high crime areas to the low crime areas," Morgan said in the YouTube video.
Morgan does not elaborate on which districts he is pulling deputies out of, because he does not want to advertise it to criminals. Billy Wingate, president of the Lake Francis Neighborhood Watch, is worried it will still make them a target. Wingate said he also worries the change will lengthen response time.
"When somebody calls and they got somebody breaking into their house, so and so forth, if we don't have patrols in this area, then we don't have good response time," Wingate said.
The Scenic Hills neighborhood hires an off-duty deputy to patrol part-time. The president of the neighborhood watch there, Ed Villar, said they may look into adding more hours. Villar agreed it is concerning to hear patrols may go away.
"Every Escambia County resident needs equal protection and I hope we can accomplish that," Villar said. "I understand there are budget cuts, but we all want to be crime free."
Morgan said the decision for the change comes back to deputy salaries. He has been asking commissioners for more money to give his deputies a pay raise, so the department does not lose them to other agencies. Commissioner Grover Robinson said he has come up with a budget that gives all deputies a $90 weekly increase.
"I'd like to think we have an offer for him, may not everything he wanted, but it should be at least something," Robinson said.
Morgan said until the department can get their recruitment and retention up, there will be less of a deputy presence in low crime areas.
"It's the only response that we can make, because I can't in good conscious, in higher crime areas where numbers are dwindling in officers, continue to maintain the same number in crimes areas that have low crime," Morgan said in the YouTube Video.
Deputy salaries will be discussed again at the budget hearing which is scheduled for Tuesday, September 26.