Commission proposes major changes to Wayne County Sheriff's Department

(WXYZ) - With the Wayne County Sheriff's Department having a deficit of $32,000,000, Wayne County Commissioner Laura Cox has proposed bold plans to fix the problem.

Suggestions included cutting several programs inside the county jail such as Internal Affairs and street patrol.
Cox also proposed moving 38 deputies to the jail.

"This is a proposal," said Cox. "It's a way to start to talk about ways to cut the overtime which is really the overwhelming problem in the sheriff's department right now."

"Public safety should be the top priority for the commission," said Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. "When you under-fund critical functions in public safety… the prosecutor's office, the courts, my jail, my office… it has severe consequence for public safety."

While both Napoleon and Cox agree public safety is important, both know the department is millions of dollars in the hole.

Cox's plan also calls for the elimination of some appointed positions she says will no longer be needed if the programs disappear.

"I recognize that we are living in a very difficult budget times," said Napoleon.  "That's an issue that we will have to deal with as it goes along. That's just preliminary recommendation."

Cox's suggestions are just recommendations at this point.

At a Ways and Means Commission meeting Tuesday night, she suggested selling half of the 48 vehicles assigned to the sheriff's administrative staff.

She proposed selling half of the department's 42 patrol vehicles as well but this would just be skimming the surface.

"This is just a small piece of attacking that problem," said Cox.  "So this is just kind of a start. It's a small step forward in a much larger problem."

The cuts will be discussed at the next ways and means commission next Tuesday.

A plan will eventually go before the full commission.

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