WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A disturbing trend, fewer and fewer people are wanting to join the ranks of law enforcement. It’s being felt right here in Sedgwick County.
Officials say there’s a shortage of detention deputies. It means some are working double shifts.
“You’ve got to be a special kind of person to work here or at least in law enforcement,” stated Dep. Jonathan Suellentrop.
Deputy Suellentrop has been with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office for more than three years.
“It has its days. There is days where it’s pretty rough, some of the inmates may be tougher on you here and there. Other days it actually comes pretty easy,” explained Suellentrop.
With the department down 42 detention deputies, employees like Suellentrop are pulling in some hefty overtime.
“Normally, I’ll put in 17 hours a day, two to three overtime shifts a week,” said Suellentrop.
“We can’t just say, ‘Oh, we don’t have enough people and close our doors and go home, we can’t do that.’ We have to operate this facility all day, every day, all year,” explained Lt. Lin Dehning.
Lt. Dehning says regardless of staff shortages, the sheriff’s office makes sure they’re constantly running with the minimum amount of detention deputies to keep safety measures in place in case something goes wrong with the inmates.
Suellentrop tells KSN he loves his job, but the grind is not for everyone.
“You’ve got to be able to take a lot of stress. You’ve got to be able to take a lot of slack, a lot of name calling here and there. You’ve got to be separate from the job. You can’t take everything personal. If I took everything personal, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t last a week,” stated Suellentrop.
Both Suellentrop and Dehning agree, the grueling hours can be tough, but, the benefits of working for their community outweighs everything else.
“There’s the pride in knowing your serving your community. Any number of things can draw you to this career field,” said Dehning.
It’s not just Sedgwick County that is experiencing this loss in numbers. Wichita police are also down dozens of officers, and it’s also a trend we’re seeing nationwide.