DOBSON — The Surry County Sheriff’s Office has requested more than a quarter of a million dollars to replace ten patrol cars in the upcoming fiscal year.
Sheriff Graham Atkinson presented about $323,000 in capital and equipment needs to the Surry County Board of Commissioners at a budget workshop last week.
He is also requesting the addition of two narcotics positions for the department.
“They have paid for themselves twice over,” Atkinson said of two narcotics investigators for which the county board provided funding in the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Atkinson said it took about a year to get the new personnel — and a canine — trained and ready to take drugs, drug dealers and drug users off of Surry County’s streets. However, after that initial training period, the two positions have really paid off.
Atkinson said drug arrests in the county have increased by 35 percent since 2006. The department is making nearly one drug-related arrest per day on average.
The outgoing sheriff pointed out that his department seized more than $500,000 in drug money in 2016. Some of that money will be returned for use in the sheriff’s department.
Drug money seized under state statute is handed over to the county Board of Education, explained the sheriff. However, if the sheriff’s office works with a federal agency, the dollars can make their way back to the sheriff’s office. Atkinson said the federal agency may take 20 percent for its involvement in the investigation, but the remaining money is split up between local agencies which took part in the seizure.
He told county commissioners he wasn’t sure what the sheriff’s office’s portion of the seized money will be.
In speaking of the two added positions, Atkinson said, “The experiment paid off.”
“With that said, I’d like to have two more (narcotics officers),” added Atkinson.
The sheriff did not provide a dollar figure associated with the addition of the two positions.
Instead, the expenditure will be presented at a later date as part of a personnel expansion plan, according to Assistant County Manager Sandy Snow.
Atkinson would also like to see an additional patrol deputy position or the restoration of a D.A.R.E. officer position so that each patrol shift has seven deputies on duty. He noted with the county’s call volume, each shift really needs 10 deputies.
Ten new cruisers would cost the county nearly $300,000, according to Atkinson’s budget request.
The sheriff said his department is likely to make the transition from using Dodge Chargers to Ford Explorers, as it will add Explorers to its fleet in the current fiscal year. The department has had maintenance issues with the Chargers, and many law enforcement agencies throughout the state have transitioned to the Explorers.
Ten of the vehicles, Atkinson’s request, would be an expenditure of $296,908.
Other requests include about $40,000 to replace 12 mobile data terminals in cruisers, $10,000 to replace 10 desktop computers and a little more than $48,000 for nine in-car or dashcam systems.
Atkinson noted the nine cameras would allow his department to equip every vehicle used on a daily basis with a camera system.
The office is also requesting $20,000 to purchase used vehicles for use by its narcotics division.
Included in the sheriff’s budget request is a proposed allocation of $13,500 for toilet replacement at the detention center. Replacing the stainless steel sink and toilet combination units is a continuation of a project started two years ago. The allocation would buy five of the units.
A new prisoner transport vehicle, a cost of about $23,000, is also included in the proposal. About $9,000 would allow the jail to equip all of its transport vehicles with new cameras, and Atkinson is requesting about $12,000 to replace the back-up washing machine at the jail.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.