Deputy sheriffs do a lot for our counties. They enforce laws, run the jail and strive to keep the community safe. These men and women do even more when there is not enough of them, which is the case for several sheriff’s offices in Eastern Idaho.
The problem is, no matter how few deputies a county has, the job must continue.
“I mean the job doesn’t stop. Whether it be patrol or the jail, crime doesn’t go away,” said Chief Deputy Alvin Winegar of Fremont County. “It doesn’t take a break just because you’re short people.”
Recently, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office was down 12 people, which is unusual for the sheriff’s office. Sergeant Bryan Lovell says they have seen a significant decrease in applicants.
“We used to get dozens and more than a hundred applicants every time we had a testing session, we’re getting five to 25 and that’s difficult to sift through when a lot of those wash out through that testing process,” Lovell said.
When staff members take vacation days or contract COVID-19, the rest of the team pulls together to fill those spots. Adding understaffing to the equation makes it even more difficult.
“The workload that everybody is carrying to try and cover those has really taken a toll,” Lovell said. “But we have a quality team of people that are willing to step up and help where they need to help.”
So why the decrease in interest?
The answer could lie in a number of reasons. Some of which include economic problems, the pandemic and the cost of living in the area.
In addition to those reasons, Chief Deputy Will Fruehling of Blaine County thinks highly publicized incidents with law enforcement has contributed to the lack of interest.
“Some high-profile cases that the national media has really put a spotlight on, and I think in general the consensus or at least throughout the country is that all law enforcement agencies are struggling to recruit and retain quality people,” Fruehling said.
It’s easy to see bad examples and conclude that it applies to all cases, but Fruehling notes that with every profession, some workers are more professional than others.
“It’s no different than any other profession out there,” Fruehling said. “There’s competent doctors, competent lawyers, and there’s others that don’t fall into that category and it’s something that here at Blaine County Sheriff’s Office we try to hire the most qualified, skilled people.”
If you’re interested in working as a deputy, you can apply here:
Blaine County Sheriff’s Office: https://blainesheriff.com/302/Career-Opportunities
Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office: http://bonnevillesheriff.com/page/careers
Fremont County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.co.fremont.id.us/jobs/