BOONE COUNTY, Mo. - A shortage of deputies and jail employees is posing a challenge at the Boone County Sheriff's Department.
Currently, the department is short four deputies and at least a dozen jail deputies.
"We are down 12 today," said Assistant Jail Administrator Captain Keith Hoskins on Monday.
He said it has been a struggle for years to fill every position.
"Being at full staff here is rare," said Hoskins.
It's even more difficult finding employees when the job includes being locked inside a jail with county inmates.
"You have to find the person that can work in this type of environment," Hoskins said.
Although the jail always meets the minimum staffing requirements, he said it still poses a challenge.
"We have individuals that come in and work a lot of overtime," Hoskins said. "We have individuals over a month's period of time to have upwards of 100 hours overtime just to make sure we have sufficient staffing for the jail."
But the deputies are short staffed too, and Detective Tom O'Sullivan said they have to be careful.
"It's something we have to be cognizant of, not overworking people," he said.
O'Sullivan said there are a couple of factors that contribute to the staffing conditions.
"We've had a couple people retire or take other jobs," he said. "It seems like every time we hire three people, we lose three people."
And he said lately, there's been a lull in applications.
Many department personnel and potential employees have often been in the military.
"I've often wondered if these long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have robbed us of some potential law enforcement officers," O'Sullivan said.
The department has hired three deputies over the last few weeks, bringing down the openings from seven to four.
O'Sullivan said once a deputy is hired, he or she will have to complete a minimum of two months of training before they are out on their own.
As for the jail, Hoskins said the hiring process typically takes thirty days.