Sheriff Hale wants county to bring deputies back

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - This may be a crucial week for Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale's office. Hale, along with other county elected officials, will meet with the county's finance committee this week.

Hale was seeking to have $10 million restored to his budget after county budget cuts forced him to put on 45 deputies and 22 civilians on administrative leave without pay and close the county jail in Bessemer. Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins has opposed any additional funding for Hale and other county agencies.

"The sheriff is in control of his people," Collins said. "We didn't close the Bessemer Jail or put his people on leave. He did that. We have no more money to add to anyone's budget."

The sheriffs' office takes exception to the commissioner's position.

"To say they didn't close the jails or send people home, the sheriff did, is a silly way of looking at things," said sheriff spokesman Lt. Randy Christian.

Lt. Christian says 20 of the 45 deputies have found other jobs and six have been recalled.

"I know we are safer county when deputy sheriffs are back on the job than sitting at home," Christian said. "We would like to get them back as quickly as possible."

Commissioner Bobby Humphryes said he hopes to help the sheriff bring back some of  the workers.

"If he has people on furlough, I want to know about it," Hymphryes said. "Why haven't they been brought back? I want everyone back to work."

Christian says the sheriff's office will continue to lobby the county commission looking for three voters to overcome Collins' objection. He says Hale will not consider another lawsuit against the county.

"I don't want to see the county commission spending more money on law firms when it could be public safety dollars," Christian said. "That's a no brainer."

Christian adds Hale is no longer seeking $10 million dollars for his budget. The finance committee meeting is set for Wednesday.