Budget item concerns police, sheriffs, and lawmakers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Law enforcement agencies say they're worried they may see more cuts to their local budgets as lawmakers try to trim costs.

Dozens of sheriffs and police chiefs from around the Commonwealth supported Senator Bill Carrico's initiative to keep funding in local governments, which he says contribute a great deal to public safety.

The Republican from Fries says says lawmakers in the Senate proposed a budget amendment that could take away roughly 30% of the local funds law enforcement agencies collected.

"Its money that's not going to be there," said Carrico. "We're taking away a tool the local government has by keeping the public safe."

Carrico adds, right now 80% of funding comes from the state. 20% comes from the local government. He says Virginia already has a shortage of state troopers. Carrico, a former  trooper, says local agencies can't see cuts when budgets are already strapped

"Even though we have short budgetary times we need to do what we can to keep the people safe," Carrico added.

Hopewell Sheriff Greg Anderson agrees that local police and sheriff's departments can't handle any more cuts. He says without funding they'll no longer be able to assist different agencies to help enforce the law.

Sheriff Anderson was able to use funding to crack down on reckless drivers speeding down I-295. About three miles of the interstate runs through his jurisdiction. He says the budget item is all an effort to cut costs to local agencies even more in the next several years.

"This is just an effort to get their foot in the door," said Sheriff' Anderson. I think in the next five years, they will take away all of it so you will see a great number of highway safety programs at the local grassroots efforts go away."

If that happens he says there will be less money for agencies to get reckless drivers off the roads and keep the community safe.

"It's going to raise fatalities and the number of wrecks if these programs go away," Anderson added.

Senator Carrico says Senator John Watkins supported an earlier, similar budget amendment, but he could not say who exactly proposed this one.  We tried contacting Senator Watkins late Wednesday morning for a comment but have not heard back.

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