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Sheriff’s Office faces deep cuts in budget

The Kitsap County commissioners have asked the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office to reduce its budget by 7 percent to 9 percent, which could result in the dismissal of as many as 16 deputies, nine jail guards and three support staffers.

Each deputy costs about $100,000 per year, and each corrections officer costs about $75,000.

In 2007, the Sheriff’s Office employed 128 fully commissioned deputies. Starting in 2010, that number was reduced to 120.

If the latest cuts are enacted, that number will be slashed to 104.

Right now, there are about .7 officers per 1,000 people in the county. With a staff of 104, there would be about .6 per 1,000.

By contrast, the city of Port Orchard employs between 1.5 and 2 officers per 1,000.

Those living in urban areas may not notice the difference, but those living unincorporated Kitsap County probably will, said Undersheriff Dennis Bonneville.

“If these cuts go through,” he said, “there will be two service levels — one is rural, the other is urban. And the difference between the two will be pretty significant.”

Sheriff Steve Boyer said his office has already lost 25 positions in the last two budget cycles and is beginning to feel stretched like a rubber band.

“The rubber band may not break down tomorrow,” he said, “but you’re going to have a problem down the road” — particularly if the rubber band broke ‘at an inopportune time like in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina.”

With only six to seven deputies on duty in the county at any given time, the organization already runs “really skinny,” according to Boyer, and the deputies may have additional work on their hands once 100 beds are cut from the jail, which currently holds about 400 people per night.

“I don’t want to be an alarmist,” Boyer said, “but I have an obligation to tell people this is what it looks like with these types of cuts if they continue.”

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