I spoke in front of the Escambia Board of County Commissioners ( BOCC) in support of the BOCC giving the Sheriff’s Department the $3.6 million increase for the 2018 budget year, in July 2017. The Sheriff’s office has had a compression issue for 8 years and has lost many deputies to other departments and even Navy Federal Credit Union due to the low pay. The Sheriff’s office is underfunded and undermanned, the 3% increase they received each year for 8 years barely kept them afloat. They need to hire more deputies, plus retain their current staff. The $3.6 million will help accomplish this. Some County Commissioners state that the Sheriff’s Department is the only one who receives increases every year. The BOCC states that other county department’s employees have not been receiving raises. My question to them is, are the other county employees protecting the citizens of this county from threats? When I call 911, is the secretary of a county commissioner coming to my house to prevent a burglary? When you get rear-ended on Nine Mile Rd, is someone from the Tax Collector’s office coming to take the report? No, it is the Sheriff’s department. If the Sheriff’s Department is understaffed, then the time line has just been expanded, more time is wasted waiting and the thief either gets away or something worse could happen to our families. Comparing other county employees to the sheriff’s department is not a comparison at all. The political posturing from both sides has only caused the citizens of Escambia County to be collateral damage and will continue to suffer from this. There are commissioners who have hinted that there may be some mishandling of funds from the sheriff’s department, if so, have the State of Florida do a forensic audit. End the speculation, stop spitting out rumors, innuendos and assumptions and stick to the facts. Please stop this pettiness back and forth. The citizens of this county are the only ones who will suffer. VOTE BILL FETKE AUGUST 2018!