Growth Taking a Toll on the Mesa County Sheriff's Office

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The Mesa County Sheriff's Office says it needs more deputies and a bigger budget to keep up with growth.

Sheriff Hilkey is asking Mesa County for a 26 million dollar budget for 2008. That's a five and a half million dollar hike.

He says he needs more resources to do his job. The sheriff says a big concern is a lack of deputies. The department of justice standard is two officers for every one thousand people for a healthy department--Hilkey says Mesa County has less than one officer per one thousand people.

The sheriff says a lack of manpower means deputies can't do as many extra operations to head off crime before it happens.

When there is a major investigation such as the Paige Birgfeld case that uses mutliple resources, the sheriff's office says response could be hampered even more.

Sheriff Hilkey is asking the county to hire 22 more employees. Some will serve as patrol deputies, some as administrative staff and two openings are for a new crime lab coming to Grand Junction.

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office says the county should decide on the budget by November.

In the meantime the sheriff says citizens can do their part by organizing neighborhood watches and keeping their neighborhoods clean.

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