LISTEN: Sheriff Risen, Captain Bagby on reduced funding

Sheriff Bill Risen and Captain Curt Bagby stopped by the studio of KLPZ 1380am Monday to talk about the challenges of operating the La Paz County Sheriff’s Department on reduced funding.

Risen, elected in November, told Parker Live‘s John Wright that he has been asked to cut $30,000 per month from the department’s budget, and has not resolved how to do it yet. Earlier in the day, he addressed the Board of Supervisors, saying that his department had responded to 1,295 calls in the last 30 days, and cited numerous instances when patrol deputies were so thin on the ground that there was nobody at all on patrol in key districts.

Listen above by pressing the play button. The segment can also be downloaded.


  1. If Sheriff Risen does not feel he can protect the county with the resources he has THEN HE SHOULD CLOSE THE JAIL and contract out our prisoners. He is being so stubborn about it. This decision is a heavy one but it is what needs to be done. Without the federal prisoners in the jail it is a money sucking machine. What is the purpose of keeping open a jail you can’t fill or afford to keep open? To support Bill Risen’s pride? At the cost of how many more employees in the future? I really hope Bill Risen or the supervisors don’t want another term come election time. None of them will be supervisors or a Sheriff in the future.

    He can have one or the other. The deputies or the jail. All county offices are running on bare bones. Several workers are doing 3 jobs and not doing them well. I know that public safety is a concern and that is why he needs to make the tough decision. The fiduciary only had one employee left and didn’t she resign? How can an office function if the only person there has to stay in the office to keep it open when half the job is field work? The assessors can’t assess property to try and generate more money in property tax. The PD office is closed. The roads department can’t even fix and roads as the county can’t pay back the HURF money they “borrowed”. How much more can the other departments give when Risen won’t budge from his prideful position?

    If the county can’t make payroll in July or August are those same officers going to work for free? I don’t think any county employee would. Morale is down. It is worse than down it is in purgatory and Duce Minor chose the worst time to push his 5 day work week agenda. He tried to take away one of the only perks the employees have. The employees may of decided to tough it out and support the county but not now. I have several friends who are county emplyees and they would not do anything to support Duce and his agenda.

    This is a sad and desperate situation but decisions need to be made and they’re not being made when the Sheriff won’t do it. He is leaving it all to the last minute. I hope he knows someone will make the decisions for us. Either the bankruptcy court or the state when they take this county back over.

    So way to go Bill!!! You and the other elected officials think you are better than the other department heads and don’t need to make cuts. But you do in one way or the other.

  2. Alan Nelson

    A very good analysis of the budget situation in La Paz County and how it effects the Sheriff. I have one issue with some of the statements made. It was stated that during the ’90s there was a fatal boating accident on the River “every weekend”. And something like 80-90 fatalities a year.That was never the case. In the 1970s to early 1980s there was an average of around 8-10 fatal boating accidents a year on the River. Particularly after the Coast Guard closed their station in 1981. That was probably the period of the most fatal accidents on the River. In the late ’80s through the ’90’s, that number was reduced to an average of less than 1 per year. With some years having maybe one or two, but most years having none. That noteworthy low average number has continued through today. While there have been some horrendous Boating accidents, such as one near Rio Lindo Shores that killed 3 teens in a single collision, that is the exception, rather than the rule. A check of the Arizona Game and Fish State Boating Safety Accident Reports (on file with the SO at the Boating Safety Center or available on line) will back these statements up). This is not saying that Boating Safety services aren’t needed, as it was a proactive, high visibility program on the water, and in the classroom, that brought, and keep, those fatality, and total accident, numbers, down.

    I should also note that all costs associated with the La Paz County Sheriff Boating Safety Program, including Officer’s salaries, benefits, overtime, training, equipment, fuel, maintenance costs, etc. are provided through a recurring Grant from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, (formerly through State Parks) funded 100% through Arizona Boat Registration fees. The Sheriff’s boats were purchased through a Grant from the Arizona State Parks Board, funded 100% by Arizona Marine (boat) fuel taxes. Those same grants paid for the construction of the up-river Boating Safety Center. I have heard suggestions that the County should sell the boats to shore up the general fund. While that would be possible, any funds resulting from selling the boats would have to be used for Boating Safety purposes, or be returned to State Parks. Selling off those assets would do nothing to alleviate the County’s current shortfall.

  3. Ms. Bea,

    Some things are not optional. The Sheriff’s duties are set in Arizona law. Specifically ARS 11-411. Most noteworthy to your argument is ARS 11-411.A.5:

    “5. Take charge of and keep the county jail, including a county jail under the jurisdiction of a county jail district, and the prisoners in the county jail.”

    For the full language of the the pertinent law see:

  4. Thank you Alan.

  5. Then to me that would mean cuts in his department. Start with the supervisors so the deputies can still be on patrol as normal.

  6. Joe the plumber

    those of you blaming the new sheriff are showing your ugliness and stupid ignorance. The past sheriff is to blame. The new one just took office and inherited a shitmess.

  7. Don’t blame risen. Blame the last guys in charge for 8 damm years they spent spent and spent. Commander running the show is now a detective being paid 80k a year. His wife is a supervisor. Why doesn’t he retire after he comes back from his illness. Save the sheriff office 80 k

  8. Joe the plumber

    Yikes! 80k for dead weight. …
    let’s see: judge, supervisor, sheriff, bankrupt county…the drummer. Let’s not forget the super ego fisher king and about $14 million payout. Boy, would that help. The last 8 to 12? years on your laps supervisor Irwin and Administrator Field. Oh yeah, you guys are are buds with the drummer. Next up: a $100k probation officer?

  9. Joe the plumber

    Yakama County…sounds better all the time

  10. @ Joe,

    I am not blaming the current sheriff for the situation the county is in but I do blame him for not taking action now. He knows what he has to do and is not doing it.

    IMO we need to concentrate on the now. It doesn’t matter how we got in this mess at the moment. We need to figure out how to fix it and Risen is giving excuses on why he should be excluded in the cuts. After we get out of this mess we can figure where we went wrong and who did what.

  11. Sheriff Risen is not complaining, he is explaining the situation he faces. There is a big difference. I know the decisions he has to make are difficult and like someone already stated, Sheriff Risen inherited a lot from the previous administrator. Why not reduce the pay The Irwin factor, that would help with some of the budget cuts for the S.O.

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