Members of the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Department approached the county commission Tuesday morning to discuss their need for more deputies as well as higher wages, as the department continues to lose deputies because of the non-competitive pay.
Sheriff Bill Martin said their staff is down to just four deputies after two gave their two week’s notice within 24 hours of each other, one of them a K9 handler, and a third is on medical leave after an accident while off work. Those deputies will be forced to work even further overtime as they cover the 12-hour shifts left open.
To compensate for the decreased manpower, Martin said they had to pull the courthouse security temporarily and said they may have to consider allowing deputies to respond to dispatch calls from home in order to prevent them from working such long hours that they become exhausted or burnt out.
“It’s impossible to do with four deputies,” county attorney Justin Meeks said of the amount of overtime that will need to be covered.
Not only would the employees be forced to work extensively, the county’s budget would also be hurt as they pay a time and a half for overtime, possibly adding up to more than $7,000 a month extra with the understaffed department. The correctional center is also using overtime as they are trying to replace three of their normal 16 employees.
“I want to take care of the employees,” Martin said, saying most exit interviews reveal that the pay is the chief reason the deputies leave to take other jobs, some leaving the county and even the state.
Currently working on preparing their budget for the 2018 fiscal year, Martin said they will ask for a wage increase in order to be more competitive while also asking for as many as five further staff, including deputies, detectives and an individual to help with clerical work such as handling evidence.
The commissioners agreed with Meeks and Martin that the need is becoming more serious as it has become harder to retain the staff needed to patrol the county. Commissioner Lynne Oharah said they will look closely at what funding is available during the upcoming month as they continue to accept budget requests from other departments.
Click here for an article with more details on a January report on the Sheriff’s Department wages.