Indian Trail considers adding at least two more deputies
In order to keep up with a growing caseload, Indian Trail needs more deputies. That was the recommendation from Sheriff’s Office Lt. Chase Coble, in discussions Saturday, Jan. 28 with the town council.
“The main goal is to clear more cases and clear them quicker,” Coble said. He explained that one of his detectives had picked up 61 felony cases in Indian Trail since January 1. When the detective worked on the other side of the county, Coble said, he was averaging 21 cases. Coble equated it to a sales company with a sudden growth in business. “If you sell products and you’ve got 61 places to be this week, that’s kind of hard to do. At some point, your company has to hire someone else to be in there with you and make sure customers are satisfied.”
Coble pointed to the fact response times dropped since 2009, as the town added additional deputies. In 2009, deputies took an average of 11 minutes, 8 seconds to respond to a call. In 2011, that time fell to 9 minutes, 35 seconds.
Currently the town contracts for 18 total officers, including 16 deputies, a sergeant and Coble, who is in charge of Indian Trail’s detachment. Indian Trail hasn’t added any officers since 2010. Council members were split however, both on the need for additional officers and who would pay for them.
“I feel like we’re already paying for those detective services, (because) we’ve doubled the amount of tax revenue toward the county,” council member Darlene Luther said, pointing to the growth Indian Trail has experienced over the last 10 years. “Our tax base has gone up greatly, which is more tax dollars to the county.”
Coble suggested that was a discussion for Indian Trail to have with county commissioners, pointing out that only about an estimated 8 cents on every dollar in tax goes to the sheriff’s office.
“I can’t control what I don’t have,” Coble said. He also explained what goes into the town’s budget each year for deputies. The cost per deputy goes beyond salary requirements, Coble explained. Each of the patrol cars has a data plan that has to be renewed each year, as well as cell phone coverage and radio equipment that has to be paid off.
Council member Robert Allen said that if given the option, he would prefer to hire additional deputies, rather than pay for a detective.
“What I’m hearing is that residents are satisfied, they want visibility,” Allen said. “Response times are way down from 2009, property damage down, all this is from patrol cars. I’d rather have boots on the ground.”
If given additional manpower, Coble said he would like to break the town into districts and assign each officer to his own zone, much like the Stallings Police Department operates. Right now with the level of manpower Indian Trail contracts for, Coble said, he’s not confident in doing that. He added that if council members wanted more visibility, they would have to hire more deputies.
Council member David Waddell proposed a staggered approach, that would ultimately see the town hire six new deputies, with two hired each year. Waddell projected that with a law enforcement budget just under $1.4 million currently, adding six deputies would cause it to grow to an estimated $2.3 million.
“That’s still a pretty good deal,” Waddell said of the hypothetical $2.3 million budget, adding that he would prefer to add deputies now, rather than wait until after projects like the movie theatre and Monoe Bypass are complete. “I just don’t want to be behind the eight ball later,” Waddell said.
Mayor Michael Alvarez echoed Waddell’s comments, cautioning that economic development wouldn’t mean much, if the public wasn’t satisfied with law enforcement.
“With all this economic development we’re talking about, it really all goes for naught and nobody’s gonna want to come without the proper law enforcemen on the ground,” Alvarez said. “Without going forward and adding to it, the services level will not be able to be kept up.”
Discussion and a possible vote on adding deputies will take place at the council’s Feb. 14 meeting.