How local law enforcement agencies are dealing with staffing challenges

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The staffing shortages impacting law enforcement don’t just impact the South Carolina Highway Patrol. A News 2 investigation found there are local agencies scrambling to fill scores of positions.

The City of Charleston Police Department has 49 vacant positions right now.

North Charleston is short 25.

The Town of Mount Pleasant needs 17, but department officials say six of those positions are currently frozen.

Troubling numbers that have many of these agencies getting creative on social media, and even hosting job fairs to recruit people to the force.

What makes it especially tough is at a time when it’s hard to find people to take the jobs, more and more people are moving to the Lowcountry every day. That is causing an increase in calls.

In turn, pressure mounts on agencies that are weathering the shortages in decent shape.

“We are in a good place right now, staffing-wise,” said Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis.

Lewis’ agency is one of the few in a position to say that right now. In fact, Lewis says he asked for, and received, funding for eight additional deputies over the last couple of years and is hopeful for eight more in the next budget year. On top of that, he can fill those positions.

Serving one of the fastest growing counties in the state, Lewis says it’s more important than ever to have people on the road.

“They may never call any of the other operations in the county but there’s a big chance they call us for something, and we have to meet those demands,” said Lewis.

He admits, his agency isn’t immune to some of the issues other agencies are dealing with. Just last week, two of his deputies resigned, and he says they left law enforcement all together.

“At least here now, you can’t make just one blanket assessment of why people are leaving, it’s different because they’re human beings and they all have different drives,” Lewis told us. “I can’t put my finger on it and say that’s the reason because there are so many factors that are involved.”

The sheriff said management style could be one of the primary factors, too. That, along with how people are treated, and their benefits. He says, the list doesn’t stop there.

“Things as simple as – in this world – they want a nice vehicle because they spend 12 hours plus a day in that vehicle, that’s their office,” Lewis said. “They want to be proud of where they work, and they want to show their peers that they’re proud of what they have and the working conditions.”

For Lewis, he is focused on keeping his house in order, but is concerned about what other agencies are dealing with. However, he is confident that the profession will weather the storm.

“I think there’s a lot of people that still care about their community and still care about their fellow man and they want to do something positive for the people around them.”

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