Money crunch pushes EMCU to limit

WICHITA, Kan. — Within the Exploited and Missing Child Unit there were more than 4,000 cases and less than 15 detectives to work them last year.

“We’re kinda at the point now where we have to have this money to be able to do this,” said Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter

That situation won’t be changing or slowing down anytime soon either with the current trend as the number of cases rises. EMCU works on cases of sex abuse, physical abuse, human trafficking, internet crimes against children, as well as children in need of care.

“Anytime you have those type of increases in crimes, you have to add personnel to address those crimes that are now coming to the forefront,” noted Easter.

So he’s doing what so many other agencies are doing, asking for an increase of more than $65,000 in their funding. The increase would cover one new detective to the group.

“We’ve gotten to the point where it’s not efficient any longer to run the sheriff’s office this way, we have to have these folks reinstated or new positions brought up through the system.”

Despite that need, he may not be able to get it fulfilled. The county is already trying to figure out how to cut more than $2 million from next year’s budget, to keep it in the black.

“You have these competing priorities all of which make good sense and then have good justification,” said Sedgwick county commission Richard Ranzau. “It’s trying to balance where to put where our money, where the biggest bang for our buck so to speak.”

Add in the increased cost of food at the jail, healthcare expenses and an increase in utilities, there are a lot of factors to the equation and since the money to supply those needs comes from your pocket, officials say it’s not something they can take lightly.

“It’s basically a balancing of priorities,” said Ranzau. “Everybody that comes before us with a request has a good reason for that request”

The budget process will last through the summer when the budget will eventually be determined.

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