Polston addresses staffing at sheriff’s office

The Russell County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to serve the people of Russell County at a high level. 

That was the message from Russell County Sheriff Derek Polston at Monday’s Russell County Fiscal Court meeting.

Polston said the department is at the same staffing levels as when he took over the office in 2018. He said he’s happy with the consistency of the department’s personnel, and said the agency is continuing to serve the county.

“When I took over in 2018, we had six deputies and today, we have six deputies,” Polston said. “We have two school resource officers at Russell Springs and Salem, and we’re hoping to hire one or two more deputies in the coming 30-90 days. Let me be clear, we are still serving the public like always, answering calls. We’re still going to patrol the county. We’re going to enforce the laws in the county. We’re going to continue to deal with the drug issues we have.”

Polston said when he took over in 2018, the department had six deputies. That number remains the same, despite a couple deputies leaving due to the county not offering RCSO deputies hazardous duty pay like multiple other agencies offer. The decision whether or not to offer hazardous duty pay comes from a county’s fiscal court or a city council.

For example, Russell Springs Police officers are eligible for hazardous duty pay, while Jamestown police officers and Russell County Sheriff’s Deputies are not.

Other nearby agencies like the Pulaski, Casey, and Adair County Sheriff’s offices offer hazardous duty pay, as well as the Columbia Police Department.

“This has been brought up before, whatever the cost,” Polston said. “It’s good to think at one time or another that the sheriff’s office and other entities in the county could get it… we are losing officers to hazardous duty retirement.”

Deputy Kenny Perkins recently resigned from the department, citing a desire to be closer to family in Adair County who are struggling with health issues. Polston said that Perkins’ resignation had nothing to do with a lawsuit that was filed against him in March.

Staying fully staffed can be a struggle, Polston said. Law enforcement agencies at every level across Kentucky and across the nation are facing staffing issues due to the nature of the work, among other issues. A study in September 2020 by the National Police Foundation found 86 percent of law enforcement agencies across the country were facing personnel shortages.

“We’re still here and plan on being here for a while,” Polston said.

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Zac Oakes is the News and Sports Director for LakerCountry.com and Laker Country WJRS 104.9 FM.