Butler County wants training on officer-involved shootings

Butler County commissioners want Sheriff Richard Jones’ department to host a regional training on officer-involved shootings.
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Butler County commissioners want Sheriff Richard Jones’ department to host a regional training on officer-involved shootings.

Butler County commissioners want the sheriff’s office to host a training exercise on officer-involved shootings, and they know it won’t come cheap.

“We’re willing to write the check,” commissioner Don Dixon said during the first day of budget hearings. “That’s something that is money well spent, to save potentially millions of dollars in litigation and lives.”

MORE: Butler County budget hearings begin

The sheriff department’s training budget is $20,000 for next year, an amount Sheriff Richard Jones called inadequate given more mandated training hours and policies coming down from the state.

“$20,000 is not enough,” Jones told commissioners for the regional training they were suggesting. “We’re probably looking at a much larger, substantial amount.”

Chief Tony Dwyer told the Journal-News he needs to do some research before he can hazard a guess at the cost.

“I know it’s not cheap,” Dixon said. “We know we’re not talking $50,000, we know we’re not talking $75,000, it’s a big number.”

Jones said he would have a plan for the commissioners within a month.

County officials have started crafting a spending plan for next year that includes at least $2 million in cuts from requests made by office holders and department heads. They held 14 hearings Monday and Jones’ department was first.

Finance Director Tawana Keels said the various office holders and department heads have requested a total of $97.3 million worth of general fund dollars and $12 million in capital requests for next year, but they will need to get to $92.2 million to balance the budget.

Add to that a new federal mandate that will potentially erase $3.1 million worth of sales tax revenue.

Jones’ budget showed he was looking for an extra $1.8 million next year, for a total budget of $34.4 million. Dwyer said more than half that amount is not coming out of the general fund because there are other agencies the sheriff serves — like dispatching for Hamilton and Oxford — that pay for the services.

Part of the increase is due to new union contracts the sheriff and commissioners settled with six unions this year. The contracts included raises in the 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent range. Jones has the biggest budget and the most employees at about 382 full time.

The total expenses for all funds was marked at $372.4 million in the tax budget for next year but with the budget submissions Keels said the total now stands at $392.4 million.

The county was anticipating a $2.3 million — or 5.4 percent — jump in sales taxes next year, but Keels has trimmed that back to about $41.5 million.

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