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Missouri jail debt could force sheriff deputy layoffs

Northeast Missouri sheriff’s offices said they could have no choice but to layoff deputies if the state doesn’t reimburse them for hundreds of thousands of dollars owed for housing state prisoners.

The state could owe Clark, Knox, Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Ralls, Scotland and Shelby County as much as a combined $462,385.

Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish said it’s a small piece of the more than $35 million Missouri owes communities across the state.

“The Sheriff’s Association and many sheriffs throughout the state have finally decided that we can no longer tolerate this level of disrespect from bureaucrats in Jefferson City,” he said.

President of the Missouri Sheriff’s Association, Parrish said he’s tired of hearing the same old story.

“We have been told for years that there’s no money to reimburse the counties for the cost of incarceration,” he said.

But Parrish said in the last 20 years, reimbursement funding has only gone up around $10 million while the Department of Correction’s budget has ballooned almost one billion dollars.

“They’re clearly taking care of themselves first,” he said.

Parrish said without the money, departments will be forced to start pulling deputies off the street..
It’s a fate his department has been able to avoid, but at a cost.

“We’ve had to make some drastic changes as far as equipment, the biggest one is patrol vehicles,” Chief Deputy Jerrod Eisenberg said.

A 23 year veteran of the force, Eisenberg said not buying a new patrol car bought them some time.

“We hope to be able to keep and not loose a deputy until the end of 2020,” he said.

Eisenberg said even one deputy would be a big loss for a seven man department that covers over 500 square miles and responds to nearly 6,000 calls a year.

“And the people that pay for that are the law abiding citizens of Lewis County,” he said.

Parrish said not all departments can buy themselves times.

He said the Dade County Sheriff’s Office will have to layoff two deputies by January.

“We recognize that the state has a lot of responsibilities but they cannot do this without ensuring local public safety,” Parrish said.

Local lawmakers said they’re aware of the problem and know it needs to be fixed.

Representative Louis Riggs of Missouri’s fifth district said he’s had discussions with the budget chair regarding allocating more money.

 

Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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