TRINITY — The city of Trinity will not add another law enforcement officer this year after the local government elected not to appropriate funding for an additional position in its budget.
Two years after reaching an agreement for one additional Randolph County Sheriff’s deputy to patrol the city, members of Trinity City Council received a follow-up presentation from RSCO Chief Deputy Aundrea Azelton earlier this month. After Azelton provided the information requested, including financial considerations for what increasing the presence of law enforcement would cost, a vote to remain with two dedicated deputies passed, 3-2.
Council members Jack Carico, Stephen Lawing and Don Payne voted not to add another deputy, while fellow members Tommy Johnson and Bob Hicks indicated they would have liked to see additional deputies.
City Manager Debbie Hinson introduced the item to council as a budget proposal for one, two or three additional deputies. The annual total for one additional officer would come to $91,329 to add a deputy, plus a program investment fee and an operational expense fee. Two additional officers would be $171,686 annually, and three additional officers would be $252,048 annually.
The sheriff’s office would have used the old city hall building as a physical location for staff, which would have deducted $26,400 off what the city was paying for the services of the additional deputies. A more long-term proposal was floated that if council were to move its meetings from the current location in the annex, the sheriff’s office would have been interested in moving operations for a full-scale satellite office to the property.
Payne bristled at the notion, suggesting the reason the city is unable to procure the services parts of Randolph County receive is political.
“We will get an office here when our population gets important enough politically to the sheriff to put one here,” Payne said. “We started out on a simple program of two deputies for a certain price. Now what we’ve got into is we’re sharing our finances for something we’ve already paid for. As taxpayers, we’re supposed to have some representation from the sheriff.
“The problem is, we have no say so. If we hire these deputies, we have no say so about whatever they do.”
According to RCSO Deputy Kyle Cox, response times have decreased since the city added its second deputy. Cox is assigned to Trinity as one of two deputies responsible for providing dedicated law enforcement coverage the city currently offers to its residents.
In response to an increase in crime in 2019, Trinity funded one additional position for a second deputy. Total salary and benefits package for the position was announced at $56,741 annually.
The current duties of Trinity’s deputies include answering calls for service, performing special checks of schools, businesses and residences, attending official city meetings, assisting in code enforcement operations and attending neighborhood and community watch meetings as a liaison for crime awareness. Cox also serves as a liaison between city officials and the sheriff’s office.
Johnson and Hicks both spoke briefly in favor of adding deputies, as did Mayor Richard McNabb. Pointing to the increase in housing developments coming to Trinity, the mayor broke down the cost of additional law enforcement and the services it provides.
McNabb said he sees the need for more officers as imminent.
“I don’t have a vote; I’m just talking common sense,” McNabb said. “If you’re going to protect the people and you’ve got 1,150 houses coming on the books, what are you going to do? … If you ask the citizens of this town, you’ll get over 75% who will say, ‘I’ll pay $32 additional pay a year to have the policemen.’ ”
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at email@example.com.