Jefferson County sheriff to stop responding to traffic accidents www.privateofficer.com
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama June 15 2011– Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale will formally notify the Alabama Department of Public Safety today that sheriff’s deputies no longer will respond to traffic accidents beginning Saturday.
Between 5,000 to 6,000 wrecks worked by deputies annually will now be turned over to state troopers.
“We just will not have the resources after Saturday to have personnel tied up at traffic accident sites,” Hale said. “The little coverage we have will be dedicated to crime fighting.”
The Alabama Legislature last week failed to pass a bill to give the commission power to raise taxes to replace revenue from the county’s defunct occupational tax. The state Supreme Court in March struck down a county occupational tax and business license fee that together raised $74 million a year.
The Jefferson County Commission was counting on state lawmakers to pass a limited home rule bill to allow the commission to raise enough revenue to avert countywide layoffs and a reduction in services.
Hale has announced plans to reduce his employees to a 32-hour work week — a 20 percent pay cut — to make up for a $3 million reduction to his budget.
The sheriff also warned last week that deputies will not be dispatched to work any public road traffic accidents or direct traffic at accident sites.
“We are one of the few counties that work wrecks anyway,” Hale said. “We do that as a service to our citizens so we can get traffic flowing as quickly as possible. We do not have that luxury anymore.”
“The traffic jams will be significant, and for that we are sorry,” he said. “We are going to do the best we can with what we have been given.”