Sheriff concerned as fewer officers patrol Land Between the Lakes
You and your family may plan enjoy Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area this summer. About 1.8 million people visit the recreation area each year, but a local sheriff is worried it doesn’t have the resources it needs to keep you safe.
Trigg County Sheriff Ray Burnam made a post on Facebook that says:
"The issue is Law Enforcement in the Land Between the Lakes.
First I want to say this is nothing against any Officer in LBL. They are GREAT. They can only do what the people in elected positions give them money to do.
The problem is that there are not enough of them. The problem is their budgeted money for Law Enforcement is being redirected to Fire prevention. Both are very important."
Time with family at their favorite vacation spot is the perfect honeymoon for the Prices. "We just have a good time. It’s nice down here nice to get away, said Christy Price.
Even on vacation, Price has the safety of her family on her mind. "It’s nice to see a cop ride through makes you feel a little bit more at ease," she says.
Burnam says he worries visitors like Price will start seeing fewer of those officers patrolling the area. He’s noticed his deputies are responding to more calls in LBL.
"That’s a responsibility I accept, and we’re always going to come, but we only have six deputies. We don’t always have someone out," Burnam said.
Burnam says almost 20 years ago the area had 27 officers. That number has dropped to five.
LBL has 170,000 acres. Burnam says five people are not enough to cover the entire area.
"Coming over to the type of calls over here, we don’t always have the resources that are needed to get to these calls," Burnam said.
Area supervisor Tina Tilley says this issue is above her. She says it goes to Washington. LBL is run by the U.S. Forest Service. More than 52 percent of the forest service budget goes to wildfire suppression, and that number is expected to go up. "This directly squeezes dollars that are left available for programs on the ground," she said.
For now, Tilley says LBL will work with local agencies to keep all visitors safe.
"We want people to feel safe and secure and come out with their families," Tilley said.
Burnam says he’s trying to be proactive. He says he has his deputies driving through the area getting to know it better, and he’s finding out what resources they’ll need. He said people who are interested in helping can reach out to their state representatives about the issue.