WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) – Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder has asked the quorum court for eight new deputies to patrol the 955 square miles of the county.
This is something that hasn't been asked for in a decade, which is something he said he can no longer do in good conscience.
“I'm putting my officers at risk. We've had two deputies shot in the line of duty in the last two and a half, three years,” he said.
Corporal Taylor Reid was shot in August of 2015 while responding to a domestic disturbance call.
Ti Augustine was shot in March of 2016 while responding to a call of a suicidal man.
Helder said calls like these are alarming and are becoming more frequent.
“They are more violent in nature," he said. "The majority have the potential to have weapons involved and all have escalated emotional status.”
From 2014 to 2016 high priority calls went up 31 percent and medium priority calls by 20 percent. These high priority calls require multiple deputies to respond.
“I think we've seen an increase in mental health issues over the last ten years that are unprecedented," he said. "I think we've seen an increase in drug abuse."
While Helder said he knows eight more deputies are not going to change these issues they face, he thinks it can help.
“Often times whenever you can respond in force, it's a deterrent and that's what we are hoping happens here.”
They have also asked for two courthouse security personnel and another animal control officer. The cost of these positions is around $1 million. The quorum court will not vote on the final budget for 2018 until a later date.