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Polk County Sheriff's Office Loses Eight Positions

The Polk County Sheriff's Office will endure the biggest budget cut ever, according to county officials, and this means positions will be eliminated.

January 25, 2012|Joanna Small and Joel Girdner | Reporter and Photographer

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Another Ozarks sheriff's office is scaling back and blaming the budget.

  Polk County will have to cut eight positions this year, a blow which could have a trickle-down affect.

  Only Bolivar and two other small Polk County communities have city police departments, so fewer deputies on the road is a safety concern across the county, and maybe even more importantly a safety concern for the deputies themselves.

  Greene County Lieutenant Jeremy Lynn works alone; such is the life of a deputy sheriff.

  "As the night got later it dwindled down to not very many deputies at all.  And as a matter of fact a lot of the time if you were the late or overnight car you spent some times half, some times a quarter, some times three quarters of your shift as the only officer and that was just part of it."

  That was in polk county.

  "I worked there through December of 2002, so I was there for four years," Lynn says.

  He was also shot there. 

  "I ended up with three wounds or three places on my left leg where I was struck and twice on my right leg, and then there was a round that went through the holster on my duty belt and then the final round was in the square of my back," he remembers.

  With no other deputies on duty Lynn drove himself to the nearest fire station.

  "It's one of those situations you always think about but you never really think is going to happen to you."

  Maybe not, but a mentor warned him the job would be dangerously lonely.

  "He said, 'now Jeremy there's something you need to realize.  You're working at the sheriff's office now and back-up's not going to be right around the corner.'"

  And that was pre-$400,000 cut to the Polk County Sheriff's Office budget.

  "I'm afraid that it will get worse," says Northern Commissioner Kyle Legan.

  Unlike in Lynn's situation a tighter budget in Polk County means two deputies to one car, one in the driver's seat, the other in the passenger seat to provide built-in back-up.

  The county commission acknowledges that's little consolation.

  "It does concern me for public safety," Legan continues.

  Eight sheriff's office positions will be eliminated and a vacant jail administrator job won't be filled.

  Lynn feels for his former employer.

  "There's no real good solution to it," he tells us.

  But unlike most deputies, he says, "Polk County is not alone in that situation."

  Barry County too had to cut four deputy positions, and with the elmination of the MoSMART grant agencies across the Ozarks are losing drug officers.

  In Polk County the prosecutor's office lost a receptionist position and nearly all part-time help has been eliminated county-wide.

  Still, right now Polk County plans to keep 24-7 coverage, but in 2013 an additional $195,000 will have to be cut from law enforcement so that could change in the future.

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