The Clark County Sheriff’s Office plans to hire more deputies this year to combat low staffing and the drug crisis, including four detectives.
Clark County commissioners approved a total $170 million budget last week, including a $43 million general fund. The sheriff’s office budget is about $15.2 million, the largest item in the county’s general fund.
At this time, Clark County Sheriff Deborah Burchett said her office is still working out the details of the budget but its includes new staff, guns and ammunition.
Four detectives will be hired to fight the opioid epidemic throughout the county, at a cost of about $234,000. They might not be added right away, Burchett said, because the department has a low number of deputies overall right now and needs to hire more of them first.
“As far as our deputies, we are way down as far as numbers … We have the same amount of deputies now we had back in the 1990s,” Burchett said.
Currently the sheriff’s office has 104 deputies on staff but Burchett said it should about a dozen more and be closer to 116 deputies. Any new deputies hired will start in the jail, including Deputies Jordan Bean and Marcus Johnson, who were just sworn in recently.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office budget for this year also includes $80,000 to purchase new guns for deputies.
“The reason we are going to purchase the new guns is the fact that everyone here at the sheriff’s office has to purchase their own guns,” the sheriff said.
Deputies use several different types, she said, and it has been like that for years.
“For liability and safety, we are going to buy the weapons and the new guns so everybody is issued the same type of weapon,” she said.
It will also help the sheriff’s office save money, Burchett said.
“We are buying all different types of ammunition, which costs a phenomenal amount over what we would have to purchase if we just had to purchase the same ammunition,” Burchett said.
Those savings on ammunition also could be directed toward hiring more deputies, she said.
County Commissioners Melanie Flax Wilt and Lowell McGlothin both want to re-examine the sheriff’s budget later this year as vacancies take place and are filled. McGlothin also wants to purchase a new body scanner at the Clark County Jail.
Springfield resident Sue Fischer said the Clark County Sheriff’s Office needs to hire more deputies and detectives to fight that drug and overdose crisis here. She said she’s seen its affects.
“Friends watching their children die and you know it’s just been terrible,” Fischer said.
BY THE NUMBERS
$170 million: New total budget approved by the Clark County commissioners
$15.2 million: Clark County Sheriff’s Office budget
104: Number of deputies within the Clark County Sheriff’s Office currently
The Springfield News-Sun digs into important public safety issues in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories looking at school safety one year after the shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School and new chiefs heading up the Springfield Police and Fire/Rescue divisions.