Sheriff Says Washington County Facing Deputy Shortage 

The sheriff of Washington County says he’s facing a shortage of law enforcement personnel.While they’re working hard to fill patrols for the rest of the summer, he says he’s also worried about finding qualified officials over the long term.”Everything just fell apart at once for us. I call it just the perfect storm.”Sheriff Donnie Smith says they lost a handful of people over the last few months, who left for other jobs or who aren’t working for other reasons.He says other officials have had to add shifts to just to fill patrols.”There’s been no decrease in coverage,” Smith says. “We’ve been working closely with state police as we always have. We’re so used to filling each other’s shifts, the resource sharing agreement is phenomenal…but now we’re out of people.”Maine’s chief of police, Colonel Patrick Fleming, says in the short term state police are pulling together to help fill the needs of the sheriff’s department.But Smith says, in Washington County, he’s concerned about finding well-qualified people to fill law enforcement jobs going forward.”The other thing we’re finding and it’s not just in this agency, but the pool of applicants in Washington County is kind of dried up,” Smith says. “The people that are certified already have jobs, so it’s difficult to recruit them from other agencies because we pay approximately 6-7 dollars an hour less than other agencies.”Smith tells us some potential applicants are turned off by the money or the hours, while others can’t pass the physical fitness exam or aren’t willing to go to the academy.But Smith says it’s a good job, with benefits. And he currently has three positions available, if you’re interested.”There are some things I think the state will have to look at long-term, but short-term we’ll just have to manage the summer,” he says. “It’s piecemeal, but we’ll get through.”