The Adams County Sheriff’s Department recently hired new Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Miller. The new hire came after months of the department working understaffed and searching for eligible workers.
According to Adams County Sheriff Travis Collins, the entire state is having difficulty finding new employees to fill open law enforcement positions.
“The problem isn’t isolated to our area,” said Collins. “I see openings posted across the state for new law enforcement.”
Since July, department staff have been working overtime to compensate for the lack of available workforce and high turnover. Collins said that he has been covering day shifts “seven days a week” and that deputies have been alternating long overtime shifts. Collins said that he expects the taxing schedule to continue while Miller goes through 12 weeks of training at the academy.
“The truthful and simple way – it sucks for all of us right now,” said Collins. “We have been rotating [deputies] the best we can to keep our normal abilities and be proactive in the community and stay away from just the reactive.”
Collins continued, “…With us being so short handed, we’ve had more overtime than usual… We aren’t having extreme amounts of overtime, but we are definitely paying out overtime to cover those 24 hours that need to be covered 7 days a week.”
At full capacity, the Adams County Sheriff’s Department has four full-time Deputy Sheriffs: Currently the department has two deputies and their new hire in training. Even with Matt joining the ranks, the Sheriff’s Department is still looking to fill one more open position. Collins said that having four fulltime deputy positions helps the department handle impromptu issues like transfers or unpredictable court hearings.
Because other areas in the State are experiencing similar issues with workforce shortage, Collins said competition to hire workers in the surrounding area has been tough. Collins cited that deputies have left the department solely because of higher competitive wages in the surrounding area.
“We can get these employees and get them trained, but then they seem to move onto bigger opportunities,” said Collins. “That’s where we need to work at, trying to keep longevity, whether that be benefits or wages after the fact.”
After an assessment of eight surrounding counties, Collins said that he found Adams County on the lower end of law enforcement pay. Specifically, Collins looked at areas with similar populations and similar dynamics to Adams County.
Collins continued, “I’m not saying that we are going to compete with the Fargos of the world, we just don’t have that tax base, that’s not realistic. But we do need to be cognizant of what our neighbors are paying so we can stay in a competitive range, get those quality applicants, and keep our staff happy.”
Although the new deputy still has yet to complete academy training, Collins said that he is excited to have him join the department, especially because he is already an involved member in the community.
“We are lucky to have Matt’s interest,” he said. “I think he will be a good asset to our office and the community as a whole.”