Public safety seeks 150 more positions

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Phil Galeoto, director of the Department of Public Safety, testifies before a joint budget subcommittee Tuesday afternoon at the Legislature.

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Phil Galeoto, director of the Department of Public Safety, testifies before a joint budget subcommittee Tuesday afternoon at the Legislature.

The Department of Public Safety is asking lawmakers to add 155 more staff members to the agency, including 60 additional highway patrol troopers.

Public Safety Director Phil Galeoto told a joint meeting of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees Tuesday his agencies also need more than $1 million to cover the unexpected increase in gasoline prices to run patrol cars, and $12.5 million more to purchase 223 replacement vehicles plus seven motorcycles for NHP.

The 60 added troopers would be joined by 18 other support personnel for a total of 78 and a cost of $12.66 million over the biennium.

But Galeoto told lawmakers NHP isn't the only agency which needs to expand this budget cycle. His budget asks for 40 more people in the Division of Parole and Probation, including 29 case officers to handle the more than 13,500 offenders they must track.

Like Director of Corrections, Glen Whorton, Galeoto said the prison population and, therefore, the parolee population is "hardening" - meaning the crimes they committed are more serious than those they dealt with a decade ago. He also said Nevada is paroling inmates at a higher rate than most other states now.

To house the growing parole and probation staff, the department is asking lawmakers to appropriate $63.5 million to build a new office in Southern Nevada.

The Nevada Division of Investigations, he said, is requesting 10 added positions to staff the anti-methamphetamine enforcement teams added to the budget by Gov. Jim Gibbons. He said he envisions the teams as mobile, going to wherever the meth problem is most critical in the state, but focusing on the rural counties which he said don't have the resources to handle the problem themselves. They will cost $3.22 million to operate over the biennium and consist of eight officers and two sergeants divided into two five-member teams.

The Records Division is seeking 14 new staff members to handle the growth in its caseload including management of the Sex Offender Registry and moving costs to relocate the division outside the DMV building which is now at capacity. And six positions are needed in the department's Information Technology section because of the growing reliance on computerized systems at every level in public safety.

The remaining seven positions requested are spread through the administrative and other divisions including the Fire Marshal's office.

The department's total budget request is $453 million for the coming two years. Only about $110 million of that is general fund money. Most of the revenue comes from the highway fund which is generated by gas and diesel taxes and vehicle fees charged by the state.

The proposed two-year budget will all be reviewed in detail once the 2007 Legislature convenes Monday.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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