NEW PORT RICHEY — Trying to make better use of its resources in tight economic times, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office is dividing the west side of the county into two geographic districts, the office announced Monday.
The move is the "next phase" of cost-saving measures the Sheriff's Office started earlier this year in the face of an anticipated $30 million county budget shortfall, said Sheriff Bob White.
Effective April 1, the Sheriff's Office's western district — which runs from U.S. 41 to the coast and makes up about two-thirds of the office's total county workload — will be divided at Ridge Road.
Half of the approximate 120 west side deputies will have their headquarters at a new field office set to open April 1 in an annex of Fire Station 15 on Trinity Boulevard.
The new station will also serve area residents who no longer have to trek to the sheriff's New Port Richey offices.
"Our goal is to provide the best service possible with the limited resources we have," said Maj. Maurice Radford of the Sheriff's Office. The new districts "allows us to focus more on specific communities in our local region."
The Sheriff's Office hopes the reorganization will also make the most efficient use of its staff.
The Sheriff's Office has not received funding for new deputies for two years, and depending on the economy, it's not clear when that money will come again, said spokesman Kevin Doll.
The Sheriff's Office was able to put about 30 more deputies on patrol earlier this year when it disbanded several specialty units, including community policing deputies who served as liaisons between the Sheriff's Office and neighborhoods, tactical units that blanketed areas experiencing spikes in crime and the aviation unit.
Helen Anne Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 435-7312.