Hale versus commission rages through Saturday

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -- Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale is used to fighting the bad guys, but now he is fighting for the very survival of his department and the people who live in the county.

On Saturday, Hale and some of his staff argued in court that Jefferson County residents are in harms' way if there are not enough deputies to fight crime.
The county commission got the permission they needed to cut five-million dollars from Hale's department.

Hale wants the judge to issue a restraining order against the Jefferson County Commission to keep commissioners away from his budget. The county commission says they have no option.

All day Saturday inside Judge Joseph Boohaker's courtroom, Sheriff Mike Hale's attorneys faced off against the county commission's attorneys.

Sheriff Hale says he is fighting for the safety of Jefferson county residents and adds that "lives would be lost and it would be a different Jefferson County should funds be taken away and that would impact the loss of these vice narcotic deputies. It is a sobering picture"

It was Thursday night when the Jefferson County Commission took five million dollars from the sheriff's budget. That money was taken just hours after the Alabama Supreme Court lifted a restraining order which had blocked the commission from forcing the sheriff to make budget cuts.

ale's attorney Rob Riley admits that the county commission is in a tough positions, but says it is state law that the public safety should be properly funded before any other department.

"The sheriff needs the deputies that he has, he needs the personnel to respond to the number of calls the office gets" says Riley, "it gets over 10,000 911 calls a month and the people expect that the sheriff's office will be able to respond to those calls"

Attorney's for the county commission said in court during opening statements Friday that the sheriff's department could still operate with fewer people. They also said that the amount of overtime paid out by the department is way too much.

"If we are cut, we might as well close up shop the drug dealers are just going to run wild" says Captain Paul Logan, emphasizing that cuts would be devastating.

This hearing will continue on Monday. The judge would like to issue a ruling on this matter before the commission meets on Tuesday.