Budget cuts forcing sheriff’s office to change policing methods

Shawano County sheriff squad car

SHAWANO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) — Potential budget cuts in Shawano County are forcing the sheriff’s department to find new ways to operate.

Shawano County says it’s not alone. Every year sheriff’s departments are asked to save money, making cuts that leave officers and investigators with less resources.

“Every year you cut more and then the next year you’re expected to even more than that,” says Shawano County Sheriff’s Department Office Manager Dana Ritchie.

The department won’t replace their most used squad car meaning the old one will stay in service longer than they’d like.

There’s also less money for ammunition which impacts firearm training. Also deputy tasers will be used longer than normal as the department is holding off on its regular replacement cycle to save money. The same goes for a radar unit that was ready to be replaced.

“At the end of the day we’re going to do our job, regardless of money,” says Capt. Tom Tuma. “We will provide the services that we need to in order to keep people safe.”

Capt. Tuma says budget cuts mostly changes things behind the scenes. He says the department has had to change its crime fighting approach, becoming more reactive than proactive.

“Crime analysis – identifying problems before… as they’re occurring before they become trends,” are some of what the department can no longer focus on according to Capt. Tuma.

Deputies are instead having to spend more time doing follow up work on investigations.

The county says money just isn’t coming in like it used to and they’re asking all departments to cut back.

“The revenue streams are declining and expenses keep going up,” says Shawano County Board Chairman Jerry Erdmann.

Erdmann’s fear is budget issues affecting county services.

Capt. Tuma even with cuts to the department’s budget, administrators will see to it that the public and officers are taken care of.

“I will say I will not ask an officer or deputy to go out in the field and not be equipped to do this job,” Capt. Tuma said.

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