February 18, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Napoleon attacks Ficano, Wayne commission over jail staffing moves

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon Napoleon said his annual budget has been chronically underfunded by more than $20 million. (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)

Detroit— Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon on Tuesday criticized the county executive and commission over the reassignment of officers from the Warrant Enforcement Bureau to staff the county jails.

A dozen officers in the WEB unit began working in the jails last week in an effort to reduce overtime costs. The unit monitors juveniles placed on tether through the county’s Department of Children and Family Services. County officials have called for Napoleon to cut costs and reassign deputies from external departments.

But the sides continue to squabble over what departments should be cut to staff the three jails. Napoleon said Tuesday the executive office of Robert Ficano has rescinded his approval to transfer the officers, which would further hurt overtime costs.

“The CEO and the commission have constantly accused me of failing to take action to reduce overtime in the jails,” Napoleon said. “But when I instituted steps to do so, they cried foul. They want me to move others in my operations. They don’t have the right to tell me who to move from commission budgeted and approved positions. Those decisions rest with the constitutional office of the sheriff.”

The executive office suggested pulling 26 officers from other departments including the secondary road patrol unit, deeds enforcement, marine safety and the Wayne County Community College unit.

Napoleon said his annual budget has been chronically underfunded by more than $20 million. Some county officials have criticized him not doing enough to reduce expenses and for helping contribute to the county's accumulated deficit of about $220 million. Napoleon's department alone has an accumulated deficit of nearly $105 million since fiscal year 2008-09, including a $32.6 million deficit for the fiscal year 2013. Commissioners approved a $95 million budget for fiscal year 2013-14.

“The sheriff received a $9 million increase to his budget this fiscal year,” said June West, Ficano spokeswoman. “The prosecutor got another $4.5 million while everyone else has seen budget cuts. Rather than political gamesmanship, they both need to get serious about solving the problems and come to the table with some solutions.”

Napoleon said he is opposed to disbanding the road patrol unit.