BarCo Sheriff's Department back to full staff

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New sales tax revenues fund salaries for new deputies, jailers

The Barry County Sheriff's Department has been shorthanded for the past three years, but the new 1/8-cent county-wide sales tax approved by voters last year is getting the department back on track.

Mick Epperly, Barry County sheriff, said the department is back to its 2010 staffing levels, less one position in the jail.

"Over a period of time, we have been short as many as four deputies and three jailers, and the County Commission promised if we got the sales tax passed, they would put us back to where we were, and I commend them for standing by their word," Epperly said. "There is still one road deputy position open, and we hope to fill that within the next couple weeks."

Including the new hires, the department has 21 road deputies, and it has been surviving on 17 for the past few years. The new hires include a transportation/evidence officer, an officer at the door of the judicial center in Cassville, and a bailiff in the courts.

"We had to cut back in 2010 due to the economy, and that had us running a skeleton crew," Epperly said. "We only had two deputies working at night, so if both were out on a domestic disturbance and another call came in, one would have to drive to the other side of the county, and that's very time-consuming. The short staff basically had us handcuffed."

With the deputy additions, Epperly said the department now has three deputies working the graveyard shift, and possibly four if schedules are worked around. All of the deputies agreed to work 12-hour shifts.

The department has also hired another jailer, but it is still short one jailer and Epperly said he hopes to hire one this year. He said he asked the county commission to hire yet another jailer, but the commission only approved the department to hire one new jailer instead of two.

"We also hired a part-time janitor who will go to full time, part time as a janitor and part time as the concealed carry clerk," Epperly said. "We're paying that salary out of the concealed carry fund so we don't have to touch the general revenue fund."

Epperly said when cuts were made in 2010, the department lost about $90,000 in deputy salaries and about $54,000 in jail employee salaries. The only difference between 2010 staffing levels and the staff now is the jail is still short one jailer.

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