Sheriff Says More Deputies Needed

Law Enforcement is a stressful and dangerous profession, but Wichita County Sheriff David Duke said operating understaffed only adds to the stress and danger.

"We haven't had an increase in deputy sheriff's in years," said Duke, "Last time there was an increase in deputies, it was asked for by Sheriff Callahan in the previous administration, and I think mainly at that point it was just for courthouse security."

Duke said according to a recent review of personnel, he should probably hire around eight or nine new deputies, but in the 2013 budget he submitted to County Commissioners, he's only asking to hire four.

"All of them will be assigned to patrol," said Duke, "but one of them will be making the walk-throughs as well as existing courthouse security."

In addition to new deputies, Duke is also asking for funding to buy new cameras for patrol cars, medical kits, training cartridges for tasers, as well as body armor.

This is a breakdown of the costs associated with those:
4 New Deputies-         $151, 053
Patrol Car Cameras-   $6,000
Medical Kits-              $500
Taser Cartridges         $1,500
Body Armor               $2,500

The Sheriff's duties don't stop on the street, however, his office is also responsible for housing county inmates.

"Working in the jail is not a job for everybody, obviously, and we can't take anybody just to go work in the jail," said Duke, "[they] have to have a clean record. Clean criminal history. Have to be able to pass the basic comprehensive type testing. The lifting and moving and things of this nature."

Duke said because of the job requirements, finding and keeping good officers is difficult.

That's why he also asked Commissioners to increase spending on jailer certifications, and start paying  merit pay to the more experienced jailers.

Duke said adding more deputies and better training for jailers will payoff in the future.

When asked if he thought the spending was something the County needs to spend money on, Duke said, "Yes I do. I do believe that. It goes right back to the safety of the officers working here, both in the jail and on the street."

Reporter's Notes by Ryan Robertson:
Sheriff Duke said by hiring four new deputies, it will help cut down on what the county spends on overtime, since deputies won't have to come in on their days off to cover someone else's shift.

The Sheriff's Office budget the last two years was around $7.9 million. If these proposals are approved, the next budget would increase to about $8.1 million.

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