New sheriff faces money challenge

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Tells Rotary cars wearing out

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum said the changes he made in his office's organizational structure when he took over on Jan. 8 were necessary because it was a case of too many chiefs with no straight line of authority. 

“I felt it was not right,” said McCallum, who is at a Florida Sheriff's Association meeting this week, updated the Chiefland Rotary Club on Jan. 23.  Among his first moves after taking over from retired Sheriff Johnny Smith was to name Brett Beauchamp undersheriff and promote Maj. Mike Sheffield to colonel. McCallum also did away with the rank of major in the office which meant McCallum's opponent in the 2012 Republican primary, Maj. Evan Sullivan, was forced out.

He said having two equals in charge creates problems of employees not knowing who is in charge and for some to “get two or three answers” to questions. 

He said the office's 152 employees now “know who to turn to for answers.”

The sheriff said he is still examining each department within the sheriff's office to get acquainted with the daily operations and to let the employees know someone cares about  them and the job they do.

 “Things are coming that will affect the budget,” McCallum said. “We are not creating change for the sake of change,. But the bottom line being we have to conserve these dollars.”

McCallum said the office has positions open that he is not filling and some employees in longtime positions may find they have different jobs to do. 

To that end, McCallum outlined some challenges the office and he face:

• School security — McCallum said he recently met with the schools administration to discuss securing  schools from attack but reminded the Rotarians that “our schools have a lot of age on 'em and it's impossible to keep every scenario out.” The county has 13 schools and only four full time school resource officers. But McCallum said he met with municipal police chiefs and his office and theirs will be showing a presence at the other schools. The county will be seeking federal grant money to help pay for increasing security. 

• One of the jobs coming open is in the crime scene unit — Instead of replacing the person, the sheriff's office has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime lab to provide forensics work. 

• Money is tight — “Remember all those cars they bought a few years ago,” he said. “All of them wear out at the same time.” He said after three years the vehicles have more than 100,000 miles on them. When McCallum worked in the sheriff's office several years ago there was a fleet replacement plan with a four-year rotation.

As a result he is looking at a possible lease/purchase plan that would allow the sheriff's office to replace 10 to 12 vehicles a year. 

One way to conserve the use is “not as many vehicles are going home” with deputies, McCallum said.