The Brown County sheriff is asking for money across the board for employees, a new security camera for the jail and at least one more patrol officer in county budget hearings now under way.

With the skyrocketing cost of fuel and other expenses, Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said it may sound like he’s asking for a lot.

“But really,” Grubbs said, “we’re asking for what we really need.”

In a detailed printed report being presented to the commissioners court, Grubbs outlined the advances made in the department.

“We are responding to and clearing crimes more quickly and professionally than ever before,” Grubbs wrote in the report. “. . . Statistics continue to show downward trends in some important (crime reduction) areas.”

The budget requests will ask for a $300-a-month raise for full-time sheriff’s office and jail employees; and $100-a-month raises for “first line supervision sergeants.” Unlike previous years, the raises are not a salary percentage amount, but a flat dollar amount. The across-the-board raises will give proportionately more money to the employees who make less, and who need it the most, Grubbs said.

In the report, Grubbs commended the court for raising salaries in the last two years, but said Brown County’s sheriff’s office deputies and jailers are still among the lowest paid in a comparison made of 25 agencies in the region. While the raises of the past two years did much to improve morale, Grubbs said the reality is, the increase in the pay checks went toward escalating fuel and food prices, and probably, unfortunately, did not provide the financial relief employees needed.

The sheriff’s department has also faced challenges keeping patrol units out with the higher gas prices, but, said chief sheriff’s deputy Bobby Duvall, the department has “so far” been able to adjust the budget within the department’s allocations and not had to reduce the time or number of patrols out in the county.

“Our officers are being frugal where they can,” Duvall said, “but not to the point where we’re cutting back on our patrols.”

“Patrol is considered as the backbone of the sheriff’s office,” Grubbs said in the report, but with the interdiction pilot program in place, which allows deputies to “act opportunistically on criminal information,” the department is short one patrol deputy.

Asking to add a patrol deputy position, Grubbs said, “will significantly increase our service to the public and serve to reduce crime.”

The third request is for a digital security camera and recording system for the jail, a $60,000 to $80,000 expenditure that may qualify as an allowed purchase through the department’s discretionary accounts, money collected from jail inmates’ phone and commissary fees. The camera and recording system is concerned critical for documentation in the jail, where “there are tremendous liabilities” for the county, Grubbs said.

“Our jailers are consistently faced with having to break up disturbances or fights between inmates,” Grubbs wrote in the report. “Frequently, jailers respond to serious violent events with inmates and face a constant risk of being assaulted.”

The jail is equipped with 25 cameras, but none record, and can only be used for “live monitoring.”

As a for-instance of how a technologically advanced digital system would have been beneficial, Grubbs wrote in the report, “This also offers the county protection against false allegations against our officers and accurately provides evidence to solve inmate crimes. In one incident, an inmate claimed he was raped by other inmates. After several days of exhaustive interviews, we learned the allegation was fabricated as a tactic to get out of jail.

“A digital recording would have easily eliminated many investigative man-hours and the negative press coverage that followed.

“As our inmate population grows increasingly more violent, I believe this would protect our jailers and aid to safely manage the population.”

County continues budget workshops after meeting

Bulletin Staff Report

Brown County Commissioners will consider two applications to install water lines in Precinct 4, approval of a new employee in Precinct 1 and a contract with the district clerk and attorney general’s office in a called meeting Monday.

Commissioners court will meet at 9 a.m. on the first floor of the Brown County Courthouse.

The court will consider approval of bills and the treasurer’s report and continue its series of budget workshops.