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Scott County sheriff: Deputy shortage threatens public safety

Deputy shortage in smaller Indiana counties could threaten public safety

SCOTTSBURG, IND. (WISH) — Scott County Sheriff Jerry Goodin has 16 full-time deputies that help patrol his county, about a half hour north of Louisville.

But he has three vacancies on the force that he can’t fill, meaning his deputies have to pick up the slack.

“The health and well-being mentally and health and well-being physically of our officers (is threatened), because they are working double shifts, triple shifts,” Goodin said.

Goodin is considering asking the Indiana State Police to help patrol the county during the hours when his deputies can’t. He’s cutting back on proactive patrols and staffing at the jail.

“We have already dropped down to letting single officers do transports that’s a dangerous situation for our officers and prisoners,” Goodin said.

The Indiana Fraternal Order of Police says this is a trend among rural and mid-sized counties around Indiana. Deputies are taking jobs at other agencies in other counties for better pay.

“You’re starting to see some areas that are financially better off than some rural areas, and they are now taking our officers,” Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Toby Deaton said.

That includes Hamilton County, where starting pay for a deputy is $61,000, compared to $46,000 in Scott County.

“We do have lateral applicants. We even have applicants coming from out of state that want to join this agency in particular because of some of the things we offer,” Hamilton County Sherriff’s Deputy Lydia Fairchok said.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office hosted a job fair targeting female applicants in an effort to diversify its ranks, as Hamilton County is losing deputies due to retirements.

Hamilton County and other agencies around the state are offering various incentives to attract qualified candidates.

“We have folks that are elected officials that say they support the police but are failing to support the police in financial means, to be able to give the ability to live a comfortable lifestyle, so it’s forcing some people to go to the private sector for economics,” said Deaton.

On Tuesday, the Scott County Council tabled a proposal from the sheriff that would have given deputies in that county a $5/hr raise.