The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is losing a “very good and seasoned” deputy, and Sheriff Chuck Phillips is hearing that four or five others are interviewing for jobs.
Phillips said the department is moving in the wrong direction.
“We’re backing up, there’s no doubt we’re backing up,” said Phillips. “” We’ll have another rookie on the road at some point soon.”
Not all of the deputies are “rookies”, but the department has several young deputies patrolling the county. Phillips said they are not as seasoned as they guys the department is losing.
These deputies are not leaving because they do not like their job. Phillips said the last 20 deputies that have gone, left because of money.
Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen said the sheriff’s office is competitive with starting pay, but other departments catch up in two years because they can give raises to officers.
The first thing Phillips tells people coming in for job interviews is, “I don’t know when you’ll get a raise, or if you’ll ever get a raise.”
Phillips also said the county’s family insurance is “sky high.” He found out this week that Marshall County’s family insurance is much more inexpensive.
“Why wouldn’t people go other places?” said Philips. “They’re making the same money; they get raises and their insurance is cheaper.”
Phillips said the worst part is that the people in Jackson County do not realize what they are losing. He said they are losing a seasoned officer that knows what he is doing. Now, they will put a rookie on the road, and it will take about 6 months before that officer can get on the road.
It takes a long time to get an officer trained at the police academy. Phillips said after they have been with the sheriff’s department for a year, they see greener grass and they leave, and he does not blame them for it.
“We don’t want to be a training ground for everybody,” said Harnen.
Phillips said something has to happen. The sheriff’s office is funded by the county’s general fund, which is in a deficit.
“I don’t want to blame anyone, but somebody has to be responsible,” said Phillips. “I can’t fix this problem.”
Phillips said if nothing happens, the county will end up with a road full of inexperienced officers. He said they are at the point now where they do not receive applications. In the past, they used to get 10 per week. Phillips said they are lucky to get one a month now.
The sheriff’s department is also shorthanded. Phillips said they are full as far what the budget allows, but they were shorthanded before then. They have 20 officers in uniform, but Phillips said they could use 10 more and they would all stay busy.
“We need more deputies,” said Phillips. “Call volume is up and reports are up. Everything is increasing but we’re backing up.”
There are five deputies patrolling on one shift if everyone is working. Most of the time someone is either on vacation, sick, at the hospital with a mental patient, on a trip to prison or on a juvenile trip.
Phillips said there have been times when no deputies have been on the road. There were two deputies patrolling on Thursday, and that has become an average.
“It’s never ending,” said Phillips. “Something needs to be done, we can’t keep going like this.”
Phillips and Harnen said it was frustrating. They said it is hard to keep a happy crew when they are nor making the money they should be making.