Branch Co. Sheriff says short staff is ‘scary’ situation but help is coming

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BRANCH COUNTY, Mich. — According to Sheriff John Pollack, the deputy staffing situation at the department is “scary.” Currently, there are only five deputies on the road. He addressed the issue on the department’s Facebook page after a report emerged that staff cuts meant less road patrol, something he’s been trying to correct for years he said.

“Some folks are fairly upset right now because they feel that we’re cutting our services,” he said during an interview at the station. “But we’ve been doing this for six years now.”

Sheriff Pollack said the recession hit the county hard back in 2013. The department went from 23 deputies to eight due to financial reasons. His first day on the job, he laid deputies off because he had to.

“We’ve been operating with this eight-man crew since January 2013,” he said. “You know, here we are in 2018.”

This year, the staffed dropped from eight to five after two deputies retired, one of them unexpectedly. And another deputy has been out on longterm sick leave since the beginning of the year.

“That only left us then with only five deputies to try to cover Saturday to Saturday,” he said. “Five people just won’t spread that far.”

And the workload has soared, he said. Deputies have seen an 8 percent increase in the volume of complaints over the last few years. Processing paperwork, like writs and subpoenas, take twice as long. So to meet the demands, especially regarding the jail duties, they moved everyone’s schedule to Monday-to-Friday.

“We have courts we have to take care of,” he said. “We have transports we have to make. We have to take inmates to doctors appointments and court appointments.”

Those duties have to be done during the week, he said. Fortunately, Michigan State Police has helped cover their county on weekends. Since July two deputies have been hired. They’re currently in training and will join the department in several weeks.

“As soon as that’s over with in October, then we’ll be back to what’s been normal for the last 6 years, which is just operating on a shoestring,” he said.

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