Blount County's Problem Keeping Deputies

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Blount County (WVLT) -- Thirteen new recruits graduated from the police academy in Blount County on Friday with six going to the local sheriff's office.

So what will that do to help the understaffed department?

For Sheriff James Berrong, any new recruits will be helpful.

But they won’t solve the revolving door problem that he says can only be solved by funding pay raises.

Understaffed by 25, Sheriff Berrong believes the under staffing is from poor pay which helps him lose recruits to higher paying area cities like Maryville and Alcoa.

"Anything is an improvement unfortunately,” the Sheriff said. “These people will be hitting the roads shortly in different positions in the sheriff's office. Unfortunately, in the last few weeks or months we continue to lose people, so we're just trying to keep our head above water at best."

Berrong knows the recruits he's getting are good ones.

"I can see it in their eyes,” he said. “First of all, they're energetic and enthusiastic."

So what do these recruits think about taking jobs that pay less at the sheriff's department compared to their seven other counterparts.

"Money is not really as important to having a job that's challenging, exciting and gives you something to think about and something to do to help others," said Janice Postel, a new Blount County Sheriff’s Department Deputy.

"I love corrections and I love law enforcement,” said Andrew Baumann, another new deputy. “When you try to do something that you love, pay really isn't much of an issue."

But Sheriff Berrong has seen it many times and knows the freshman excitement will fade.

"They get married and have children,” he said, “and a person deserves good pay for the good job that they do and they look at other agencies at that point."

What was interesting was that most of the awards that were handed out were given to Blount County recruits.

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