CASSODAY, Kansas — The Butler County Sheriff’s Office has requested the addition of four deputies to the department beginning 2015.
Two of those specialized deputy positions, if allowed to hire, would work specifically to combat a reported rise in burglaries and thefts in Butler Co.
Butler Co. Sheriff Kelly Herzet made the formal request last week at the county commission’s budget hearing meeting, as commissioners work to draw up the 2015 budget.
Sheriff Herzet sat down with KSN. The sheriff said he feels it is an obligation to make people safe and argues that the additional deputies would provide added security for residents.
“I think we can slow down some of these burglaries. We can help people’s insurance rates by being proactive, and I just think it’s the right thing to do,” said Sheriff Herzet.
From 2007 — 2013, thefts alone have increased 20% in Butler Co.
According to records the sheriff presented to the Butler Co. Commission, in 2012 and 2013, county residents experienced thefts valued at more than $1.4 million, each year.
In 2010, 161 burglaries were reported.
In 2011, 129 burglaries and 421 thefts were reported.
In 2012, 155 burglaries and 491 thefts were reported.
In 2013, 188 burglaries and 464 thefts were reported.
Norma Arsenault has owned the Cassoday Country Store for 12 years. Her business has been broken into four times in the last 18 months. She has relied on the Butler Co. Sheriff’s Department to handle her burglary cases.
“There’s just not enough deputies to protect us,” said Arsenault. “You’re just trying to make a living, and then you have some low-life that wants to make a living off of you.”
Arsenault says the small town, made up of only 120 residents, has felt the brunt of the increase in burglaries across the county.
“In our little town, we’ve had cars stolen, we’ve had houses broke into, stripped, and I think, someplace there needs to be some money appropriated for this,” said Arsenault.
Arsenault, along with Cassoday Mayor Greg Ball supports the sheriff’s request for additional deputies, regardless of the potential cost: $400,000.
“If there’s more sheriff’s presence, there’s going to be less crime. That’s just the way it is,” said Mayor Ball. “Nobody likes to see taxes go up, but you know, if your insurance is going up and you’re losing stuff through crime… Who’s paying more?” asked Ball.
The large size of the county is also a factor. Comprised of 1,146 square miles, Butler Co. is the largest county in the state of Kansas. For the sheriff’s office, that only has four deputies on patrol at any given time, that’s a lot of land to cover.
The sheriff’s department has not expanded its patrol in more than five years.
The other two deputies requested would be assigned to criminal interdiction efforts.
The Butler Co. Commission has not yet decided on the request. Commissioners will take the next couple of weeks to talk it over and consider it, as the budget is prepared.