Dillon County Sheriff says he needs more deputies

Dillon County Sheriff Major Hulon said his road deputies are stretched thin and he needs more officers.

He said they respond to nearly 1,500 calls a month, and it can be quite a strain on his department because they don't have enough deputies to adequately cover all 404 square miles of Dillon County.

Hulon added they depend on mutual aid agreements with neighboring law enforcement agencies.

"So from time to time, the Town of Lake View, the Town of Latta, the City of Dillon, we back one another up. You know when we have an officer in need of backup, because other officers are tied up, and it's simply just a manpower issue," said Sheriff Hulon.

He said he only had three deputies working during the early morning hours of July 6.

One of his officers needed help while responding to a fight at the Stables Nightclub on Highway 9 near Little Rock, but his other two officers were busy on calls.

Hulon said dispatchers had to call on Dillon City police to provide back up.

Dillon City Officer Jacob Richardson responded to the call. While heading to the scene, a car collided with him.

A passenger in the vehicle that hit Richardson's patrol car died from injuries suffered in the accident.

Richardson's car caught fire, but he managed to get out. He was badly injured and remains in the hospital three weeks later.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer, the city officer and his family. He's been has been fighting for his life. We want to think about them. And also in that accident was a fatality and our thoughts and prayers go out to that family."

Hulon said he's told county leaders of his dire situation, but has realized Dillon County just doesn't have the money to increase his department's budget to hire more officers.

The average household income in Dillon is $26,668, and 32 percent of those households live below the poverty level, according to the 2010 United State Census Bureau.

"Our county council would love to do it, if they had the funds. But anytime you talk about doing that you have to fund those salaries and that can be expensive. And when you talk about millage increase that's not a popular thing. And taxes, people are taxed now to the point they hardly survive."

Hulon said grants aren't a good option because they eventually run out.

"After they run out, you still have to find that money. But we certainly try to do our very best with the officers we deal with. Hats off to them because we are stretched then sometimes."

Hulon added until the county is better off financially, he'll have to do his best to cover the county with the deputies he has on staff.

He praised his deputies for working extra hard and taking on additional shifts to make sure the county is covered.