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Sheriff deputies shortage causing major issues around the state

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NEW ROADS- Protect and serve is the motto of law enforcement agencies around the world but, that motto can be hard to uphold if the agency doesn't have officers.

"It's hard to get someone to come into this profession, because of the pay, the safety of the job, and the job you have to do," Pointe Coupee Sheriff Rene Thibodeaux said. 

That is exactly what is happening across Louisiana. The Sheriff's Association said the state is facing a law enforcement officer shortage. There is a vacancy of 1,800 deputies. 

"Every sheriff I talk to in my four years, it's been a problem. Everyone, I don't know anyone that is 100% up to date on their employees. It's a struggle, and that struggle is real," Thibodeaux said.

Thibodeaux says when he took office four years ago, on average, there was only one deputy working per shift and his office was a revolving door.

"The number of calls they have to go to increased the time, response time, to get to a call is a very long time in some situations then you just burn your people out," Thibodeaux said.

Now, things are looking up for the rural department. As of one month ago, he says he finally has the number of deputies he needs, but it took several initiatives including a salary increase. 

The issue being addressed by Governor Jeff Landry, who declared a state of emergency Thursday. It allows sheriffs to immediately hire more deputies and increase payrolls, by suspending a decades old law based around the beginning of a gubernatorial term. 

Thibodeaux says he's happy to see light being shed on the issue.

"If there is any help out there, we can sure use it," Sheriff Thibodeaux said. "I may be 10 short, but short is short."

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