JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Fulton County Sheriff says response times for non-emergencies will be longer as he addresses staffing shortages within his department.
“I’ve lost 11 people in four years, ” Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino said.
He added that ever since deputies and some other critical staff have left his department, he’s having a tough time filling positions.
“For sheriff departments in New York, it’s typically a stepping stone for officers and deputies to go to other agencies for more money,” he explained.
A total of six out of 19 patrol positions remain open. Recently, the president of the union suggested that the night patrol might have to be eliminated all together. The newly re-elected Sheriff said he wanted to address the issue.
“I want to reassure the citizens of Fulton County that I am committed to keeping the road patrol, night patrol, open. To do that, I’ve made a couple of changes right away.”
The sheriff says he’s reclaiming two deputies: one from the Department of Social Services and another who helped with civil actions like evictions. But he wanted to let the community know that the shortage will mean longer response times for non-emergencies.
“So now, 911 is taking precedence, which it always does, but any non-emergencies will have to wait.”
Union President Sgt. Keith Manners says higher salaries would help make the agency more competitive. He says starting pay for a new hire under the current employee contract is just over $41,000.
“Nobody wants to come to us, and when they do come to us, then we train them,” he said. “And within a year to two years, they leave for a higher paying job anyhow.”
The ultimate decision as to loosening the purse strings in order to hire more deputies comes down to the board of supervisors. The subject is right now at the heart of current contract negotiations, and they are not allowed to comment.