(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The struggle continues to hire and keep police officers and sheriff deputies across the country, and St. Joseph is no different.
Currently, the Buchanan County Sheriff's Department is looking to fill 24 positions.
"Recruitment and retention has been extremely difficult in this current climate," said Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Puett.
The sheriff is working to find ways to revamp and refill is department, saying law enforcement agencies across the nation are struggling with defunding, but for St. Joseph, this is not the case.
"Our community is not that way," said the sheriff. "We are very very blessed to be in a community where we have good solid people that want law enforcement. We just need to get people that are wanting and willing to step up and serve in those roles."
Country Sheriff Bill Puett believes the newly passed Law Enforcement Tax will help replenish the positions and create new jobs as well.
The tax passed in early August to increase competitive wages and add new positions. The tax won't take effect until January of 2022, but Sheriff Puett is ready to get to work.
"Career criminal and fugitive drug investigators," said Puett on the positions the sales tax will add to the department. "We're going to add nine at patrol, we're going to add a dedicated cyber child exploitation investigator that's going to work with electric crimes and child victimization and things like that."
In a recent meeting at city hall, Puett mentioned a first year deputy is making the same salary as a 30 year deputy. Adding, the new tax will allow incentives, promotions, and competitive pay within the department over the years to increase retention.
It won't be an overnight process Puett said.
The tax is expected to generate $3 million the department shared with KQ2 in a recent interview.
The Sheriff's Department is actively recruiting for those willing to stand up and put themselves into those positions of service.
"We're going to fill those slots and continue to get out here and serve and address these issues of crime that everybody is concerned about," said Puett reassuringly. "That's one of the reasons they supported the Sheriff's Office and supported this tax."
The St. Joseph Police Department and Highway Patrol Troop H are also actively looking to fill positions as well.