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Merced County Deputy Ranks So Depleted That Sheriff Warnke Goes on Calls
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By News
Published 3 weeks ago on
May 6, 2024

Merced County faces a critical deputy shortage, prompting Sheriff Vern Warnke to personally address emergency calls and advocate for budget changes. (AP File)

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Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke is sounding the alarm over a public safety crisis due to a severe shortage of deputies.

“I’m fighting for the sheriff’s office’s life right now. That means I’m fighting for your public safety. So folks, it’s bad.” — Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke

The staffing crisis has reached a point where Warnke has had to respond to emergency calls.

For example, the sheriff’s office recently received a call from a woman regarding a domestic dispute, saying her husband had a gun. With no deputies in close range, Warnke reported to the scene, wearing his signature cowboy hat and with his badge around his neck. He found a man pacing with a loaded gun tucked into his waistband and managed to de-escalate the situation.

“We had nobody to send, and I, as the sheriff, I’m still a cop, I still love what I do,” said Warnke. “But we’re at that point when the sheriff and administration are having to take calls.”

The department, which typically has 100 deputies, currently has 20 vacancies. The investigative unit is down to eight from an 18-person team, and dispatch has four vacancies in a staff of 13.

Warnke’s pleas for increased budget and control over funds allocation have been ignored by the county Board of Supervisors.

“I’m fighting for the sheriff’s office’s life right now,” Warnke says. “That means I’m fighting for your public safety. So folks, it’s bad.”

The struggle to fill law enforcement ranks is a widespread issue in California, with the number of patrol officers per 100,000 residents at its lowest since 1991.

Read more at AOL News.

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