KISSIMMEE, Fla. (FOX 35 Orlando) - The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office is dealing with major vacancies, as 47 deputy positions are currently open. That's 47 fewer deputies patrolling the streets, putting extra stress on the overworked staff.
"We're putting the burden on the people that are working here, they are picking up the pace, they're picking up the extra slack," said Sheriff Rus Gibson, Osceola County.
Gibson says competing with nearby agencies is a major factor in attracting deputies.
"We're all fishing from the same pond, so it's important for us to be competitive with local law enforcement agencies," said Gibson.
The Sheriff's Office is falling short in one category: pay.
"No, our salaries are not where they should be, right now a deputy off the streets starts at $39,500," said Gibson.
But the sheriff says nearby agencies are paying starting salaries $5,000-$10,000 higher. Gibson says that's a problem the county needs to tackle because he needs to fill the spots.
"We need if for patrolling, we need it for traffic enforcement, I want to increase our motor unit," said Gibson.
Despite the vacancies, some residents we spoke to say they haven't seen a rise in crime.
"No, not really, not recently,” said Nina Campbell, an Osceola County resident.
But Carla Johnson says she'd feel safer with more deputies."
Get some more people on the road, come on, if it gets really bad, I’d probably be willing to move," said Carla Johnson, an Osceola County resident.
"Whatever we need to solve the crimes here in Osceola County, that's being done and none of that has suffered," said Gibson.
The sheriff plans to present the issue of pay to County Commissioners in hopes of getting the ‘okay’ to raise salaries. His goal is to be fully staffed in the next year and a half.