Officials with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department are raising concerns about what they’re calling a staffing crisis.
The starting salary for a deputy in Somerset County is below $20,000 a year, which for many families is below the poverty line.
Chief Deputy and Acting Sheriff Dusty Weir says the solution to their staffing issue: increase the wages.
“All around, it’s a safety issue. My staffing, since about the end of last year, has been dwindling,”
Weir says their department has only been about halfway staffed for most of this year, and they’ll be down to four deputies in January.
“A year and a half ago, I’d have ten to twelve guys here a day. But today I have five guys here with the staffing,”
He says with the starting salary for a deputy $11.92 an hour, the wages need to be increased.
“At our starting pay around here a full time deputy at $11.92 an hour you have to pay partial your benefits, you have to pay for parking, and all this. At the end of the day, the money is not here to draw qualified people to do the job,”
Weir brought those concerns to the Somerset County Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning.
We asked the commissioners about the short staffing problem seen in many county departments.
“We deal with this on a daily basis, and we have worked diligently to fix areas where we know that there is a continued issue with workforce,”
The sheriff’s department is responsible for court security, issuing PFAs, transporting inmates, transferring children, and confiscating weapons.
When situations become dangerous, they say they need all the help they can get.
“It’s a safety issue. When we serve a PFA of that caliber, there’s times we have three, four, five of the deputies there,” Weir said.
In the meantime, they say they’ll continue performing their many duties while assisting local police departments to make our community as safe as it can be.
“I want to serve if any community member leaves a tip on our warrant line or anything like that. I want to follow up on that tip,”