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“Bare Bones”: Sheriff voices concerns on short-staffed department

PERRY COUNTY (WSIL) — Sheriff Steve Bareis is grateful for the help he’s received over the last week in nabbing a theft suspect in a multi-county chase and bringing a suspected shooter into custody.

But Bareis worries that the recent surge in crime will continue to grow, "We’ve had several pursuits, we’ve had at least three gun incidents and of course the active shooter."

Law enforcement agencies have mutual aid agreements in place that help neighboring departments assist each other in major cases, but Bareis says it comes at a cost.

"It definitely puts our resources at being stretched to its end." Bareis said.

The Perry County Sheriff’s department was gutted last summer as Bareis was forced to lay off 12 of his employees due to budget constraints, including four full-time deputies.

"We’re operating on bare bones," Bareis said. "It’s definitely not what it used to be before our layoff situation."

Working with a shorter staff, Bareis has seen his workload increase both at his desk and in the field, "I’m working the road this weekend. I’ll be working patrol right alongside my other staff."

Bareis has already submitted his budget request for the next fiscal year. Perry County commissioner Dallas Bigham says he’ll reach out to the sheriff to learn more about the request.

Meanwhile, Bareis hopes the department can put a public safety referendum on the ballot for April in hopes of adding some additional staff, "We’re hoping that will pass so we can possibly bring one or two deputies back so we have better coverage."

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