Sheriff wants county to dip into emergency funds

Sheriff Simon Leis
Sheriff Simon Leis

By Corey McConnell - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Just one week before 60 more Hamilton County Sheriff's employees lose their jobs, Sheriff Simon Leis is pleading with Hamilton County commissioners to dip into reserve funds in the name of public safety.

All three Hamilton County commissions are saying the county is in an economic crisis, and Leis agrees - there is a crisis. But the one he's most concerned about is the public safety crisis, not an economic one.

"I doubt that I will ever again see a return to the professionalism, competency, and luster it enjoyed prior to massive layoffs," said Leis.

Leis appeared before the commissioners asking them to dip into the county's reserve fund to help out his department.

"We've got to look to what needs to be done between now and labor day to maintain staffing levels," he said.

Commissioner Todd Portune, concerned about the coming summer, when historically crime rates rise, and next fall, said he hopes the stimulus plan will have the economy on the upswing.

"To spend the money when we don't know if that's gonna happen and our reserves are where they are and plummeting is just not something we can do," said Leis.

Commission president David Pepper told the sheriff its not politics, it's math. The money just isn't there.

Sixty sheriff's deputies will lose their jobs in a week as part of the department's 21 percent staff reduction because of budget cuts.

"Tt's been heart wrenching hardest thing I've ever had to do as a public servant," said Leis.

The sheriff says he will work with the commissioners to come up with a solution, and he hopes to find something before the layoffs happen next week.