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Johnson County Sheriff's Office coping with recent layoffs

By: Tanner Hesterberg, Whitney Burks Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg, Whitney Burks Email
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PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - UPDATE 1/20/14:

Budget cuts hit one county sheriff's office recently forcing it to lay off two deputies.

Now the Johnson County Sheriff's Office is struggling to balance the work load.

Johnson County Deputy Terry Tussey hit the roads patrolling Monday, but he is one of just a few deputies in the county that survived recent layoffs.

"Everybody does what they can. I mean we try to come together and work as best we can," he said.

Budget cuts forced the office to lay off two of its deputies and one office clerk leaving just a handful to pick up the slack.

"I'm still in awe that we're in this position," said Sheriff Dwayne Price.

The sheriff says losing that man power means there is only one deputy patrolling per shift which hurts several things including response times.

"All we can do is prioritize the calls and put the most important ones first, and what we can't handle we've talked to the State Police Commander at Pikeville and we've coordinated with him," said Price.

The department also prides itself in fighting a war on drugs, complete with several drug roundups throughout each year.

The sheriff says those could also be in jeopardy.

"If we're filling in for road work obviously it's going to slow our drug transactions down," said Price.

For Tussey and the rest of the deputies who survived the layoffs, their job remains serving the public.

"Johnson County Sheriff's Office is still a 24 hour sheriff's department. There's a deputy out all the time. We will get to each call any chance we get," he said.

The sheriff says there is a possibility more layoffs will come later this year, but he is hopeful they can find a way around it.

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ORIGINAL STORY 1/13/14:

Two Johnson County sheriff's deputies and a clerk at the sheriff's office will likely be laid off next week, Sheriff Dwayne Price said Monday.

The Johnson County Fiscal Court Monday night approved the first reading of a budget that reduces the amount of money the sheriff's office receives from the county.

By a 3-0 vote, commissioners okayed the spending plan that eliminates more than $125,000 in assistance to the sheriff's office.

"I don't agree with it because they have put that in there for the past 15 years," Price said. "Obviously there's a need for it to keep this office running efficiently."

Price stated his case to the fiscal court on why his office should keep the money, but Judge Executive Tucker Daniel told Price the county can no longer afford the payments.

"It's like (Price) is entitled to it because he had it before," Daniel said. "'He says, you're cutting my budget when you take that away.' Well, we're not cutting his budget. It's our allocation to begin with. It's the fiscal court's budget money."

Price accused Daniel of "playing politics" with the decision.

Price is a Democrat and Johnson is a Republican.

"Statutorily, there is no requirement whatsoever for us to give one penny to the sheriff's office or the clerk's office," Daniel said. "But we've had the revenue to do it and we've been able to do it."

Price plans to lay off two deputies and one clerk next week.

"It means a great deal because it's going to slow our response time down," he said. "There will be areas during the week that we won't have anybody out and we'll have to rely on Kentucky State Police to fill in."

Price said he may be forced to lay off more employees in the coming months. Next week's layoff will reduce the number of deputies from 10 to eight.

Sheriff's offices in other counties have experienced just as much, and often more financial hardship, than Johnson County, Daniel said.

The budget will receive a second hearing at next month's fiscal court meeting.


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