The Latah County Sheriff’s Office requested five patrol vehicles and a drug dog from county commissioners Monday.
The $4,429,668 budget request for fiscal 2019-20, which starts Oct. 1, is about $310,000 more than the current fiscal budget.
Chief Deputy Tim Besst, who along with Sheriff Richie Skiles presented the request to the commissioners, told the Daily News much of the proposed increase would result from purchasing five vehicles, a public safety software system and an additional full-time bailiff position.
Besst told the commissioners the office is also asking Latah County’s five rural school districts for a total of $80,000 to fund a second school resource officer; the county funds the existing position.
Besst said the superintendents at the school districts are receptive to budgeting for the position. A deputy SRO visits each of the rural Latah County schools every two weeks and he said a second would allow law enforcement to contact each school on a weekly basis.
The five Ford Explorer Police Interceptor vehicles would cost $50,000 each, including the addition of equipment to the vehicles, Besst said.
He said the five patrol vehicles would allow the sheriff’s office to rotate out the Chevrolet Tahoes that have more than 120,000 miles.
“I would love to see us get back into the five-vehicle rotation,” Latah County Commissioner Dave McGraw said.
McGraw asked what needs to be funded more, regularly scheduled salary raises or vehicle replacement.
Besst and Skiles said they would choose the salary raises for deputies.
“We always have to look at our employees first,” Besst said. “Vehicles are nice but you have to have people to drive those vehicles.”
Just like last year, Besst and Skiles asked for a drug detection dog for the upcoming year. The $30,000 would be used to purchase the dog; to train the canine and deputy handling the animal; and to care for it.
Besst told the Daily News the drug dog would help combat the increased use of heroin and methamphetamine in the county.
“Highway 95 is a huge corridor north and south for bringing drugs into our county, plus across the state,” he said.
Besst said the dog would be either a golden retriever or labrador retriever.
He said he is not sure if it would be a three-scent or a four-scent dog.
A three-scent dog can sniff out cocaine, heroin and meth while a four-scent canine can detect those three drugs plus marijuana, Besst said. Both would cost the same.
Besst said he is leaning toward purchasing a four-scent dog because marijuana is still illegal in Idaho.
Moscow Police Department Chief James Fry, who was in the audience Monday, said he is also requesting a drug dog from the Moscow City Council for his department.
He said there is a heroin epidemic in the region.
“It is here,” Fry said. “It’s alive and well here. I think we do need to do something that’s beyond what we’ve been doing to start to curb this.”
The commissioners will approve the entire county budget in August.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.