WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Sedgwick County’s Sheriff’s Office recently presented the County Commission with a request to add four more court deputies.
While the increase may seem small, the sheriff says, the positions affect everyone in his department.
For every person dressed in orange in the courtroom, you’ll see men and women in blue.
Sheriff Jeff Easter says, “We have to be present if they are in our custody.”
They’re court deputies, and Sheriff Jeff Easter says they don’t have enough of them.
Back in 2012 he says they had the positions but because of budget constraints they had to freeze three of the positions.
He has 19 and he says he needs 23.
“We are having to use supervisors, we are having to use street personnel or deputies that are out in the field. The one’s that we use the most is the Warrant Section,” says Easter.
A major problem says the sheriff, he says they have 12,000 warrants to serve, 1,600 are felony warrants.
Easter adds, “Their main job is to try and track down warrants and get those people in to custody. But they are spending so much time in the courtroom they are unable to do it.”
Over the last five years, an increase in jury trials and other court proceedings has resulted in a 36% increase in deputy assistance.
Those warrant officers are really feeling the burden and the sheriff’s budget is too.
Last year, he paid his warrant officers more than 3,000 hours of overtime, that’s more than $170,000.
But it’s not just about the pay, safety in the courts is a must and being shorthanded is dangerous if a fight breaks out.
“Trying to prevent that is starting to become an issue because we are so short on deputies to guard those particular courtroom,” said Easter.
This week he presented his case to the County Commission for more than $320,000 for the positions.
“I think that the sheriff has a strong case to be made,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner David Dennis.
The commission won’t decide until August but Dennis said he knows it’s a serious need.
“This is his highest priority and we support our elected representatives, normally.”