HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Dauphin County Sheriff’s Office says it has stretched to its limits because there are not enough employees to properly protect the county.
Therefore, morale is at an all-time low.
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Staff with the sheriff’s office say back in July they had 29 applicants but for the test, only one showed up.
Workers say this has been an ongoing trend, and is now dangerous.
“Our guys are doing the job. They are continuing to do the job but it’s very hard on us,” Sheriff Chimienti said.
Dauphin County Sheriff Nicholas Chimienti Jr. says half of the department’s positions are vacant. The department desperately needs more qualified applicants to both join the force and stay.
In the meantime, deputy sheriffs are having to juggle multiple roles such as transports, managing courtrooms, and more.
“I can say morale is at an all-time low. Our guys are being tasked to do the job of 53 people and it’s very hard for us. These guys are working all day, they’re working in the courtrooms, they’re not getting their breaks,” Chimienti Jr. said.
Tiffany Scannapieco has been with the sheriff’s department for the past seven years. Scannapieco says when she first started there were about 70 deputies on duty now the department has just 33 and the workload gets pretty heavy.
“It just makes it tough. You’re mentally and physically exhausted by the time you get home,” Scannapieco said.
A huge factor in the declining numbers; low salaries. The starting salary for a Dauphin County Sheriff’s Deputy is $16.89.
The department sees staff members leaving for better opportunities.
“It’s just hard, if you have a family even if you’re single it’s hard to make a go on the salary that we have at the sheriff’s office,” Scannapieco said.
Scannapieco says she stays on the force because she has invested so much time in the department and the community.
Sheriff Chimienti says he will continue to fight for higher wages.
“We want to do the right job. We want to work with our community. We want to do the right thing and we’re not portrayed as that and it’s a bad feeling for us,” Chimienti said.
Emergency workers fear and say if things continue to go the way they are the Dauphin County Sheriff’s Office could vanish altogether.