Independence Co. trying to find room in budget for more officers

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Hyping up police presence, the Independence County Sheriff's Department is hoping to add a few new officers to county patrol. With any small department, manpower and funding can be a challenge. If the department can make a few new hires, Sheriff Steve Jeffery says it could slow down crime, and give more of a presence throughout the county.

"We're like any small department. We need twice as many people as we have. If we can get these three I'll be tickled," said Jeffery.

Three new additions that would add an extra set of hands to help keep metro officers from having to leave the city limits to assist in the county.

"We have to use some metro officers every once in a while to supplement the county force. We need more county officers so we can keep the city officers in the city limits where they are actually suppose to be," said Jeffery.

Sheriff Steve Jeffery says right now, there are 13 officers that work the streets in the city of Batesville, and only 11 officers that handle the county.

"Several years ago we had a reduction in force county-wide. That's how we got behind on the number of officers when it comes to metro versus county. We've never replaced them. So, we're trying to get caught back up," said Jeffery.

But to make this happen Jeffery says it will take a three step process. They've already discussed the idea with the law enforcement committee, and will now move on to the budget committee. If it pass through, it will be submitted to the Quorum Court for approval. That's where it will all come down to the ability to make adjustments in the budget to be able to fit the bill.

"It would be 240,300 dollars just for salaries and we're going to have about 410,070 dollars for stuff like vests and weapons," said Jeffery.

Jeffery says the addition in patrol would not cost tax payers, and expects to know more in the next two weeks.

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