Ted Simons: The governor recently asked state agency heads to come up with budgets showing how departments would be impacted by budget cuts of 15%. One of those agencies, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, showed that such a budget could mean the layoffs of hundreds of highway patrol officers. Here to talk about his agency's budget is DPS Director Roger Vanderpool. Good to have you back on the program.
Roger Vanderpool: Nice to be here.
Ted Simons: These budget cut, 15%. Talk to us about the impact -- obviously, this is -- 15% is a pretty rough cut. Pretty big impact.
Roger Vanderpool: Yes, it is. It's terrible. Devastating to DPS. It would lay off literally hundreds of DPS personnel. Many of them, the overwhelming majority being DPS officers, both highway patrol and criminal investigators. Those that are working narcotics cases and gang cases.
Ted Simons: What about things like emergency calls, longer waits there?
Roger Vanderpool: Longer waits on emergency calls. Our rescue helicopters would be affected around the state. The crime lab would be affected. Literary everything, every area of the agency would be affected.
Ted Simons: Everything seems to come back to photo radar in one shape or form. Could photo radar -- check that. What's the dynamic of photo radar in this kind of scenario? More of it?
Roger Vanderpool: I guess you could make that connection. It's not a connection we want to make. Obviously, we need officers on the street. We don't have enough officers on the street. We've already taken budget cuts and this 15% would be as I said, devastating. Photo enforcement is just a tool. It will never replace officers and it should never be utilized under that means to replace officers. It's a tool.
Ted Simons: The critics of the 15% budget cut list say all this is a bunch of department heads allowed to -- scare tactics. This is what's going to happen. How do you respond?
Roger Vanderpool: The directions were clear from the governor's office, is to come up with 15% cuts that -- to permanent programs. And I think the governor's purpose was to -- to help inform the legislature that you can't cut your way out of this alone. Budget cuts will really be devastating to the state agencies and to the services that they deliver to the citizens of Arizona.
Ted Simons: Are there ways to further streamline DPS without affecting public safety?
Roger Vanderpool: We were looking at that all the time. And it's what we've been doing all along. To date, we haven't had to lay anyone off or furlough anyone and that's because we've been doing those things. Streamline, be efficient and good stewards of the tax dollar.
Ted Simons: I've heard criticism of things like duplication with law enforcement agencies around the state. Too many folks doing the same thing in different agencies. Is that something to look at?
Roger Vanderpool: I think in troubling times and in times of few assets such as the tax dollars, especially, it leads us to the ability to reinvent ourselves and to take -- and to examine ourselves and provide a better service. And I think that's what all of the agencies are doing now. Is looking at what we can do to provide a better service, more cost effective and not duplicating efforts. But a lot of those efforts really have to do with jurisdictional issues from the city, county and state.
Ted Simons: Indeed, but is this the time to look at those jurisdictional aspects and say something's got to change. If you have DPS and the city of Phoenix and all --
Roger Vanderpool: There are limited resources and tax dollars and we've got to be, again, be good stewards of the tax dollar.
Ted Simons: Do you see public safety compromised if as much as 15% cuts go through?
Roger Vanderpool: Yes, if you look at the 15% cuts that DPS will have to absorb, with laying off officers and coupled with the 15% cuts that the Department of Corrections is going to take, and they're looking at releasing 13,000 criminals, so you're releasing more criminals and cutting the cops, that's not a good -- it doesn't add up.
Ted Simons: If I'm a lawmaker and I have you in a one-to-one conversation and say we don't have the money. It's not coming in and don't see it for the foreseeable future, how do you convince me these cuts to DPS can't be tolerated?
Roger Vanderpool: I think one the fundamental obligations of government is to provide safety, a measure of safety to their citizens. And cutting DPS is not the way do it.
Ted Simons: Your five-year term ends in January. Do you feel like doing this? You're in the eye of a hurricane with the budget mess.
Roger Vanderpool: Yes, I love this agency. It's like sailing into the storm. I want to see the ship out the other side into calmer waters and -- and I think we're doing good.
Ted Simons: All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us only the on "Horizon."
Roger Vanderpool: Thank you.