A federal emergency response plan, generally referred to as NIMS (National Incident Management System) says local emergency responders could lose federal grant funds unless plain English is used in all communications. Disaster funds through FEMA could also be lost unless the directive is in place by October.
County and city emergency personnel met January 24 at the jail and agreed to take the one-page 10-code, drop the numbers and use the descriptions instead.
Law enforcement officers at the meeting said they would have little problem with the change, one designed to make sure an officer from New York City assigned to a Kentucky emergency, for example, would have no trouble understanding a local communication.
County Sheriff David Simon agreed that his deputies and he would “have no problem with the plain English,” but added later that having officers to speak plain English to was a bigger problem for him now.
Due to grant money drying up and workloads and expenses mounting, Simon said late last year he might have to cut on-the-road work by his office. Simon said Friday that the two deputies patrolling the county between midnight and 8 a.m. have been laid off due to the budget shortfall.
Simon said Friday he was basically following orders from the Fiscal Court, which told him at the last regular meeting that he had a budget and he would have to live within it the way the court did. There was not a vote on the order.
“So, there's no choice but to lay off two people,” Simon said. Since taking office three years ago, four deputies have left the sheriff's office but not law enforcement. He said the Kentucky State Police has been notified of the loss of the midnight shift, “and they have agreed to work on scheduling to take up some of the slack.”
The Sheriff's budget is a separate budget from the county's budget, but the Fiscal Court has to approve the sheriff's budget, and, while Simon said he is hopeful the cutbacks in patrols will be temporary, his 2006 budget approved in December is two deputies short.
“I hate to do this,” he said Friday, “because it goes against my whole career philosophy of good law enforcement service, but I simply can't provide that service without the resources to get the job done.”
He said he has often worked overtime with no pay, paid for things like vehicle repairs out of his own pocket, and has taken out a personal loan for $23,000 to cover the immediate shortfall.