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Sheriff’s Proposed Budget Cuts Spending, Increases Staff

The sheriff wants to add two new squads to tackle prescription drug concerns.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco has released his 2011-12 budget request, asking the county for a total of $83.3 million.

This is a 3.5 percent drop over last year’s $86.4 million budget, but falls short of the 4.5 percent amount county commissioners asked constitutional officers to trim.

Nocco wants to add 10 detectives and two additional sergeants to the sheriff’s office’s roster to help address growing concerns related to illegal prescription drug use.

“In 2010, prescription drug related cases rose to 64 percent of all cases generated by the vice and narcotics unit,” a sheriff’s office media release said. “In 2009, that number was 45 percent.”

One of the proposed squads would focus on street level distribution of pills, doctor shopping and fake prescriptions. The other would focus on long-term investigations, major violators and working with other law enforcement agencies to target the prescription drug problem.

The release pointed out the number of illegally obtained pills seized by the agency continues to climb.

In 2009, the sheriff’s office seized 13,598 pills compared to 28,412 in 2010.

The sheriff’s office is also facing staffing concerns at the jail where prescription drug abuse is taxing medical staff, the release said.

“The average amount of inmates on a detoxification protocol has doubled in the past two years,” the release said. “As of May 31, 545 inmates have been treated by the dependent inmate medical section.”

In light of this, Nocco wants to add six licensed practical nurses and two certified nursing assistants to the jail staff.

In addition, Nocco wants to hire three analysts into the department.

More details about the sheriff’s budget request will be released soon. Check back with Patch for details.

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