The Boyle County Sheriff’s Department spent more than $25,000 in overtime in the last three months and does not have enough deputies to meet the county’s law enforcement needs, according to the sheriff.
Even though property crime is on the rise due to the escalating drug problem in the area, Boyle County has the same number of deputies today that it did in 1985 when Sheriff Tommy Sims was in office, said Boyle County Sheriff Marty Elliott in an interview Tuesday.
The department spent $42,354.53 in overtime expenses between January and June, according to a financial report Elliott presented to Fiscal Court on Tuesday. Between April and June, deputies received $25,081.55 in overtime payments, according to the report.
“Is there any way to cut that overtime?” Magistrate Phil Sammons asked during the meeting.
“I don’t know how to remedy it without more personnel,” Elliott replied.
Elliott himself, who does not draw overtime pay, has worked about 15 hours a day for the past 14 days without a day off. He said outside the meeting his seven deputies are working the same schedule just trying to get the job done.
Court security, patrolling the community, transporting prisoners and handling citizen complaints are just a few of the responsibilities that led to so much overtime, Elliott said.
Under county ordinance, Elliott must provide at least three officers for every criminal or civil court session. That regulation was passed after Ronnie Gay Cornett was convicted in 2005 of plotting to murder Family Court Judge Bruce Petrie, who had presided over Cornett’s acrimonious divorce case.
“The burglaries (in the community) are through the roof,” Elliott said during Fiscal Court. “We don’t have enough personnel to get the job done.”
Sammons also said several members of the community claim some of the newer deputies unnecessarily drive fast and run through stoplights.
That alleged behavior “is making a liability to the county,” Sammons said.
Elliott said he had not heard any claims that deputies were unnecessarily running red lights but that he would check into the situation.
Sammons also cited citizens claiming Elliott has said over police radios that the Fiscal Court is not cooperating with him, an allegation Elliott denied.
“The Fiscal Court, especially Judge (Harold) McKinney, have been very cooperative,” Elliott said after the meeting.
But the bottom line is that without more law enforcement officers the entire county is at risk, said the sheriff.
“The volume of emergency calls is so great, I have deputies running from call to call and putting themselves in danger,” Elliott said. “I respond to calls myself, especially since we have had so many more violent robberies in recent months than ever before.”
Boyle County policies as well as general police protocols state that two or more law enforcement officials should report to more volatile crime scenes, such as those involving violence. Because of staffing shortages, only one deputy is going out to virtually all calls, according to Elliott.
In some situations, Kentucky State Police troopers and Perryville or Junction City police officers can provide support. But the county cannot always count on help from other agencies and is often in turn called to help other agencies, Elliott said.
“We can’t continue at this pace,” Elliott said. “Overtime pay is great financially for some of these guys, but with so much work on a regular basis the deputy suffers and his family suffers.”
Elliott hopes in the near future that he, McKinney and the magistrates will come to a resolution that includes hiring more deputies.
“Until I get the budget to hire more people, I’m limited in what I can do to reduce overtime costs and reduce the burden on my deputies,” Elliott said. “I have to make sure my men are safe, and I have to make sure the community is safe. There has to be a way to hire some more law enforcement officers.”