Barry County Losing Deputies, Drug Prevention Program

Because of budget cuts Barry County is losing four full-time deputies, three part-time jailers, and a drug prevention program in the county's rural schools.

December 27, 2011|Joanna Small and Brandon Foster | Reporter and Photographer

CASSVILLE, Mo. —   Like so many law enforcement agencies around the Ozarks Barry County is in a bind.

  The sheriff says you'll feel it on the roads, in the jail, and even in the schools.
  In November Barry County voters said no to a sales tax to support law enforcement, and now the sheriff has to cut $200,000 out of his budget.

  That equates to the loss of three part-time jailers, four full-time deputies, and a drug prevention program.
  "I've been here about six months."

  Long enough to fall in love with the job, not long enough to keep it.

  Seniority rules.  Barry County Deputy Scott Salkill is one of four being laid off next week.

  "I knew after the tax failed that it would be coming so I prepared for that," Salkill tells us.

  That didn't make it any easier for Sheriff Mick Epperly to break the news.

  "It was one of the hardest things I've had to do.  I honestly had tears in my eyes because it was Christmas time and knowing they have kids, where do they go from here?" Epperly says.

  Epperly's not sure where his agency is going, but it feels like a step backward.  Double coverage may drop to just a single deputy on some shifts.

  The biggest problem is when you cut your deputies by 25% it's going to affect response time.  The county is 800 square miles so if the one deputy on duty is responding to a call in the southwest corner of the county and he's needed in the northeast corner of the county that's a 30-45 minute commute, and that's with lights and sirens.

  And with an extra body; an officer once dedicated solely to drug education in the county's rural schools.

  "I still hear from kids who have kids and thank me for helping them make the right decisions," says Dana Kammerlohr, Cassville's police chief.

  Kammerlohr was the county's first DARE officer.  Her replacement is now needed to work the road.

  "I'm very sad they're cutting the DARE program because it literally reaches thousands of kids and does make a difference where it's needed," Kammerlohr explains.

  Salkill feels like he makes a difference every day.

  He says that will be tougher to do in his next career.

  "I'll be running heavy equipment for a gentleman in the Shell Knob area," Salkill concludes.

  Salkill will stay on with Barry County as a reserve officer, meaning a volunteer.

  He says he'll look for other paid work in law enforcement but would prefer to stay in Barry County where he's lived for 17 years.

  Salkill is actually one of six deputies the department will lose.
  Two were cut in 2009.
  By January 1st of 2012 that will drop the number of deputies from 21 to 15.

KSPR 33 Articles