OLATHE, Kan. — As the most populous county in Kansas, Johnson County accounts for more than 613,000 people.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office says it's in trouble because of an "emergency level" staffing shortage.
Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden pins the whole thing on wages needing to increase.
A spokesperson for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office says it's short 61 deputies and preparing to lose 20 more. There are 436 on staff right now.
Calvin says the shortage won’t impact emergency calls, but it will impact how the agency share its resources across the county.
Brandan Davies, a defense attorney, is feeling the impact of the shortage.
“It means that a lot of my cases get dismissed,” Davies said. “More officers have no showed or not been available for trials in the last 18 months than in the first 10 years of doing this combined.”
Whenever someone is accused of a crime, usually an officer will testify.
“With officers leaving, moving and quitting law enforcement all together, I would say it has impacted the state and the city's ability to prosecute cases,” Davies said.
On Thursday, Calvin will present a report to The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners on how things have needed to change with the staffing shortages.
Specific adjustments include reducing community policing, emergency level staffing in jails, not refilling vacant positions and suspension of promotions, among other things.
Davies says this is uniquely impacting his job and clients.
“For the last 10 to 12 years, it was almost a given in the big jurisdictions the officer would be there prepared and ready to testify," he said. "Now, it’s a crapshoot."
Davies said the same goes for the amount of deputies scheduled to protect the court and the people in it.
“It’s concerning to not have as many police officers or sheriff deputies in the courtroom because of that tension, I hope that they will make sure everyone is safe going forward,” he said.
There has also been some discord in the department over Hayden's lingering investigations into fraud concerns in the 2020 election.
KSHB 41 also asked county leaders other questions about why the department is down soon to be 80 deputies.
In an email, a county spokesperson said, "as far as impacts, we can confirm hours have been reduced at the courthouse and justice annex related to Sheriffs’s office staffing."