Commander Mike Donaldson oversees administration for the sheriff’s department. He said hiring and staffing for law enforcement officers is difficult in the county.
“We’re looking to hire Detention Officers. These will be people that will initially start in the jail and the goal is to get the jail fully staffed so we can make some other moves within the department,” Donaldson said. “That will enable us to move some of our sworn commissioned deputies from the jail out to the road. That will then, enable us to move some of our more experienced deputies that have been working for awhile into investigations or Drug Strike Force.”
Donaldson said even with restructuring there will continue to be a certain number of commissioned officers in the jail. He said they are still about nine employees short.
“Even then we’re already still behind. So we’re going to have to start another hiring cycle soon,” Donaldson said.
He attributes the shortfall to a number of factors, the anti-law enforcement rhetoric around the country and low pay in the county.
“There’s a lot of factors that are combined to create this shortage,” Donaldson said. “Our deputies are paid lower than other law enforcement professionals in the area… The truth is everyone knows getting into this job you’re not going to get rich but we’re always kind of behind the curve compared to non-law enforcement jobs.”
Donaldson said part of the issue is the starting pay is lower then other agencies, another part is the longevity pay is lacking.
“Currently, an officer with one year on our department makes the same as an officer at 30 years on,” Donaldson said. “The incentive for staying long-term isn’t there as it is in other departments.”
Donaldson said Sheriff Bill Puett is working to try to increase pay and getting longevity pay for deputies.