As of March the Greenville County Sheriff’s Department spent more than $60,000 on travel for advanced training and for transporting prisoners from other states to face charges here, a Journal study of the county’s new fiscal accountability Web site shows.
Master Deputy John Eldridge said the expenditures for this year are sharply down from years past.
“Historically, we’ve spent about $155,000 on advanced training and prisoner transport,” he said. “This year we’ve got about $75,000 to spend. We expect the same figures for next year since we’re on a two-year budget cycle in the county.”
Advanced training means courses for investigators or the department’s pilots, he said.
Certification for deputies is handled by the state at state expense, he said.
“We also do our recertification training internally at our facility on Thurston Road (near Lake Robinson),” he said. “Every deputy has to take a specified number of hours of training at the facility in order to be recertified every three years.”
Firearms qualification as well as course work is handed at the facility, he said, and is provided by the department’s staff.
“We’ve been fortunate this year in that the numbers of prisoners we’ve been called on to transport are down,” he said. “We’ve been able to get a bit more training in because of that.”
The county’s Web site doesn’t differentiate between costs for moving a prisoner from a western city or attending a seminar in Chicago. All of the expenditures are classified in the same manner: “Costs associated with conferences such as food, gas, milage, automobile rental, motel bills, etc.”
However, some months showed expenses that were sharply higher than others. For instance, in March the county spent $21,350.88 on travel for deputies, which was the largest expenditure for the period. The lowest number was for January, $388.15.
The cutbacks in travel money haven’t hurt the county’s law enforcement readiness, Eldridge said.
“We’ve been able to send our new internal affairs officer to a training session,” he said. “And we’ve been much more fortunate than other departments around the state in that we’ve not had layoffs or unpaid furloughs.”
The department has added five positions this year, Eldridge said, and all deputies got a three percent pay raise this year.