SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says his staff is stretched thin.
“We are going to be asking for additional deputies, because up in our court security office we are very short of personnel up there.”
Since 2012, he says he has had to take his men and women off the streets to sit in court. Which isn’t always the job they were hired to do.
“Patrol deputies, folks that are answering calls and then our warrant section,” says Easter.
He says he needs four more court deputy positions. He points to the 11,700 active warrants his deputies need to serve. 1,600 of those are felony warrants. But he says his deputies can’t do that if they aren’t on the streets.
“They’re not addressing them right now because they are tied up in the court system,” says Easter.
And he says the need for deputies in court continues to rise. Over the last five years, an increase in jury trials and other court proceedings has resulted in a 36% increase in deputy assistance. Those deputies play an important role, for Court Appointed Special Advocate Director, Ashley Thorne, and the children she represents.
“In my own eyes it is absolutely important because of the safety component. There are times when the deputy has had to intervene,” says Thorne.
Also important according to Easter. He says if this trend continues it could mean that programs outside of their core services may not last much longer.
“If we don’t get this then we have to start weighing in on some of the services that we do such as community policing, and our DARE program deputies that do a lot of education, do a lot of community liaison type efforts within the community,” says Easter.
Easter says he plans to make the request at the next budget cycle. KSN spoke with County Commissioner David Dennis who says because the county has bonded out more projects recently it is easier to consider requests like these.