Severe Staffing Shortage, Colorado Sheriff’s Office Stops Overnight Patrols
A severe staffing shortage has created a huge problem for one Colorado county that is being forced to cut out overnight patrols.
No Police Presence In Overnight Hours
Between the Colorado towns of Breckenridge and Salida, you will find Park County, with a population of about 18,000. For the time being, many of those residents will be without a police presence in the overnight hours because they simply don't have the manpower.
8 Deputies Doing the Work of 27
According to a recent study, based on its population, Park County needs 27 deputies. Currently, the Park County Sheriff's Office has just 8 deputies on staff following two more recent resignations.
KDVR reports that patrols in Park County will be suspended from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. beginning Wednesday. Two deputies will be on call during the overnight hours and will only respond to true emergency calls. Things like burglary or domestic violence calls would merit a response, but residents can expect to wait one to hours for assistance.
What Is the Problem?
The problem, according to Park County Sheriff Thomas McGraw is the pay. The salary for deputies starts at $48,000, but neighboring counties pay thousands of dollars more, which is making it difficult for Park County to retain the deputies they have. The county knows it needs to pay more, but is struggling to find the money to make it happen.
What Is the Solution?
Park County Commissioners and the sheriff's office are hoping to get a penny sales tax on the November ballot which could generate millions of dollars to the county's budget. Park County voters have rejected proposed tax increases in the past, but there's no getting around the fact the county needs to find a way to get more money into their budget. By the way, the county is currently accepting applications, if you are interested in a job.
In the meantime, Park County residents will be hoping and praying emergency law enforcement services are not needed in the overnight hours. Fortunately, the county's largest town, Fairplay, with a population of about 700 people has it's own police department. However, most of the county will be without a police presence in the overnight hours in the foreseeable future.
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