Sheriff Hale: "I don't apologize"

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale (WBRC video)
Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale (WBRC video)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale said he does not apologize for looking out for the safety of the citizens of Jefferson County, and said he will do whatever he needs to do, including ask for help from the Alabama National Guard, to offset possible job cuts.

Hale spoke to FOX6 News anchor Rick Journey during an interview Wednesday morning on Good Day Alabama. He said he will not apologize.

"I don't apologize for being on the county commission's team, I want the county commission to be on the law enforcement team," Hale said.

Hale was referring to comments made Tuesday by county attorney Jim Priester, who urged the sheriff to be a "team player" with the county.

Priester made the comments shortly after a judge lifted an injunction against the county commission, allowing commissioners to cut more than $4 million from the sheriff's budget as part of its efforts to balance its budget without money from the occupational tax.  Hale said Wednesday he was "disappointed" in the judge's decision but he "must look ahead."

Hale talked Tuesday with Gov. Bob Riley, asking the governor for either financial assistance or help from the Alabama National Guard in case he has to put deputies on administrative leave without pay.  Hale said without the $4.1 million cut from his budget, he will have to start putting deputies on leave as early as the beginning of September. Hale said he would only have enough deputies to interface with national guard soldiers and run the jail, which would mean national guard soldiers would be in charge of patrols and security at the courthouses.

Hale said he and Gov. Bob Riley would talk again today to look at options.  Gov. Bob Riley is looking at a bill passed yesterday by state lawmakers from Jefferson County that would replace the county's current occupational tax with a new one.  The current tax was declared illegal by a judge earlier this year.