DELAWARE COUNTY, Ind. -- The Delaware County Sheriff's office is requesting more staff members and resources to combat the growing heroin epidemic.
On Tuesday morning, Sheriff Ray Dudley asked county council members for funding to hire three deputies and three jail officers, and to also purchase ten new cars.
"It is an emergency," Sheriff Dudley said. He added, "these are the areas where we are really having a lot of trouble right now in Delaware County as a whole. I wouldn't be here asking for it if it wasn't an emergency."
Sheriff Dudley said the county's small drug task force is responsible for tackling the heroin epidemic there. This year alone, deputies have arrested nearly 200 people for felony drug crimes.
"Our drug task force is overwhelmed with the cases that’s being brought to them," Dudley said.
Council members approved the request for one additional deputy. While many agreed there's a need for additional deputies, they told the sheriff he needed to come back next month and request more funds through the public safety tax, rather than the county's general fund.
Dudley noted the county has not hired additional deputies for 30 years, while the areas drug problem has skyrocketed.
The council also asked Dudley to come back next month to re-submit his request for additional jail officers. The request on Tuesday was denied.
"We just had a jail analysis done that said we were down 15 officers. The county and the sheriff's office right is at a liability risk because we are down so many officers," Sheriff Dudley said.
Council member Scott Alexander stated the council needs more time to figure out if there's enough funding.
"We’ve got to put this together with the amount of money that we have and that’s why I’ve asked you to wait," Alexander said.
Sheriff Dudley argued, there's not enough time to wait.
A request for 10 new vehicles was not heard as council members asked the sheriff to wait on this issue as well. County commissioners agreed to fund five cars, if county council members would match their funding, with the funds for five additional cars.
"Some of our cars are getting upwards of 200,000 miles on them, so it’s a safety issue for our deputies," Sheriff Dudley said.
Dudley said he's hopeful council members will approve the hiring of two more deputies, three jail officers, and add five cars if he submits the request through the public safety tax next month.