Columbiana County Sheriff Ray Stone has been asking for money to fund the hiring of two additional deputies since he took office last year.
We agree that the extra manpower is needed for his office and hope that county commissioners will seize the opportunity to provide Stone the extra funds by applying for a Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) grant.
The COPS grant, which is funded with federal stimulus money, would cover the entire annual cost of the two additional deputies for three years. Commissioners, however, appear reluctant to apply for the grant because they would be required to pick up the entire tab for the two positions during the fourth year, or be barred from seeking a new COPS grant for a year.
With current revenue sources seeming tenuous at best, we can understand commissioners' reluctance to committing to paying the salaries in the fourth year. However, since the COPS grant for three years seems to be a sure bet, we think commissioners should take the gamble and apply for the extra funding.
Stone says the department is so understaffed that it is affecting its ability to conduct investigations. Two extra deputies for three years may be able to make a big dent in the backlog of investigations, even if the positions have to be sacrificed for the fourth year.
Stone should be sure to let anyone he hires for the positions know that their jobs are dependent on the funding being available on down the road. And commissioners should do their best to find new sources of revenue to continue the program.