(KMOV) – Imagine calling the police for help only to be told there aren’t enough officers around to assist.
This recently happened to a News 4 viewer in St. Clair County. This marks the first full week that the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department is working with 13 fewer deputies.
Deputies have been instructed by the sheriff not to respond to less serious crimes like alarms or even property crimes that are not in progress.
Some allege that is posturing by the sheriff, but the effect on crime victims is the same.
Dino Capps just got his truck window fixed Tuesday morning. It was busted out during a smash and grab at a MetroLink parking lot on Sunday. But when he called the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department for help, he was told that they could not send anyone because they were short-staffed.
Capps says he knew about the layoffs, but worries now what might happen if it’s something more serious.
County board member Ed Cockrell fought against the cuts, and he wasn’t surprised to hear what’s happening.
“We've cut 38 percent of our patrol force in the outer county and unincorporated areas. You've got deputy sheriffs and small town police forces that won't have a back-up anymore,” he says.
The layoffs took effect Saturday night at midnight. Sheriff Mearl Justus has ordered a measured response to all but the most serious crimes.
The deputies turned down their last contract offer due to wage differences. An elected official on the other side says it came down to money, and the county had to hold the line on expenses.