22 new sheriff deputies were sworn in on Friday. Many more are needed.
DENVER – It was a day of celebration in a year when there wasn’t much for the Denver Sheriff’s Department to celebrate.
After 16 weeks of training, 22 men and women were sworn in as sheriff’s deputies under the blazing sun in front of the training center of the Sheriff’s Department in northeast Denver. And seldom, if ever, in the history of the department has it needed a new group of MPs more than it does now.
“We are currently part of a national challenge, a crisis. We need help,” said Chief Sonya Gillespie, who heads the administrative division of the Sheriff’s Department.
The crisis that Gillespie speaks of is a serious staff shortage. Even with the 22 MPs added on Friday, the department will have 186 MPs, or 21% fewer MPs than budgeted.
The department said COVID-19 was mainly to blame. A significant number of MPs have left the department since the pandemic began. Recruiting new deputies was also difficult. The COVID-related deaths of two MPs clearly did not help.
“It has been difficult for people to sort of choose a new career in a high-contact field,” said Gillespie.
Gillespie said she was encouraged that Friday’s senior year was the biggest they have had since the pandemic began. Still, she admits that they still have a long way to go.
“Now is the time now more than ever to put our heads together and find ways to meet these challenges together,” said Gillespie.
There is currently a class of eight recruits in the Sheriff’s Department Academy. Another nine are starting next week, and the department is now accepting applicants for a course starting in November.
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