BarCo Sheriff’s Office reports up 21 percent

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Barry County down 6 deputies, has no applicants

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office has been dealing with a significant uptick in call volume, and doing so with only two-thirds of its normal staff.

Danny Boyd, Barry County sheriff, said as of July 14, the Office has filed 1,039 reports, compared to 855 at the same time in 2020 — an increase of 21.5 percent.

“In all of 2020, we had 1,642 reports,” Boyd said. “We’re expecting to be well over 2,000 reports by the end of the year. And, these are actual filed reports, not just call responses.”

As for call volume, the Office received 11,582 total calls in 2020. As of July 14, it had received 7,115 calls — 61.4 percent of last year’s total.

Boyd said the main culprit in the hike is domestic disturbance calls, which number 508 so far this year compared to 871 last year —58 percent of the 2020 total.

“Our night shift is working about 3-4 domestics each night,” Boyd said. “Most of our extra calls are domestics of suicide attempts. We don’t really know what the cause is, and there’s also not much we can do to stop them. With property or drug crimes, we can tell people to watch for certain things, but there’s nothing we can do to alleviate domestics other than talk to them when we respond and encourage them to get help.”

Maj. Angela Cole, chief deputy, said the rise in domestic calls has been a continuing trend over the last year.

“When the economy shut down, everyone was at home during the start of the COVID pandemic,” she said. “Domestic calls ramped up then, but when we opened back up, they didn’t slow back down much.”

Boyd said the rise in calls and reports presents a challenge for his Office, which is currently down six deputies — and with no prospects.

“Protocol is to send two deputies to each domestic, but on night shift, we only have two working,” he said. “When we have a call in one area, that can leave the rest of the county uncovered.”

The Office currently has eight road deputies, two bailiffs, two investigators, Cole and Boyd. Another deputy is also assigned to lake patrol from May to September, a salary paid for by the Army Corps of Engineers.

A fully-staffed Office would have three road deputies per shift, with four shifts during the week; three investigators; and a full-time civil process server. Right now, the Office has only two per shift, is down one investigator and has road deputies taking turns serving as needed.

“Our investigators have also been swamped with cases,” Boyd said. “One is down 14 reports with now, and another is almost always down 15-20 reports. At shift change, our road deputies are usually down two or three reports, so they typically stay after their shift to finish working those.”

Boyd said the Office recently got computers installed in the patrol vehicles, which does help. But, when deputies get back-to-back calls, reports can fall behind.

“Our deputies also have to put in 11 unpaid hours per month before overtime kicks in,” Boyd said. “They work 160 hours in a 28-day period, but overtime does not apply until they hit 171 hours.”

Another challenge for the Office is geography. Boyd said deputies have been spending more time in the southern portion of the county, like the Golden and Eagle Rock areas.

“Domestic calls are up more in the south, and it almost never fails that we will be down there in Eagle Rock and get a call for something up in Monett,” Boyd said. “The good thing is that I live on the northern end of the county, between Purdy and Monett, so a lot of times at night they will call me to respond.”

Boyd said deputies have tested response times from one end of the county to the other, and even running with lights and siren, it takes 45 minutes to get from Monett to Golden.

“When I first came on and we had more people, if we were getting a lot of calls from a certain area, we would saturate that area,” he said. “When we have three on each shift, we put one up north, one in the south and have a floater. With only two per shift, we can’t really do that.”

Boyd said the Office does not expect to be fully-staffed any time soon, either.

“We have no applicants,” he said. “When people can go to other departments in Barry County and make more money, that’s what they do.

“We should be more competitive with the Monett and Cassville departments, but we act as a training ground. Guys cut their teeth here, then go to where the money is, and why wouldn’t they?”

Deputies at Barry County start at $31,200 per year, and they get an added $1,200 from the state’s Sheriff’s Deputies Supplemental Fund grant. Before base pay was raised to above $30,000, deputies’ raises were absorbed into the grant. Jailers for the county still start at $27,000, and the understaffed jail only has two corrections officers per shift right now.

In Monett, the starting salary for a police officer is $36,941.17. In Cassville, officers start at $33,500.

Boyd said he hopes people are understanding with the Sheriff’s Office, which may not work at the speed they want at times.

“My big thing is as sheriff, I want to be honest and up front about our situation,” he said. “I will tell you if we are having a hard time and why it may take longer to get to a call. Some of that is priority, like if two calls come in at the same time — a property crime that has already been done and with no danger, and a domestic — the domestic takes priority. But, we will always come to get the property crime, too.”

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