Sheriff’s deputies—when is enough, enough?

Monday, June 24, 2019

You would think the number of deputies in a given county would be based on its population. This however is a fallacy.

Cherokee County has a population of 11,316. It has a full staff of 8 deputies that patrol the county.

Ida County has a population of 6,965 with a deputy staff of 10.

Sheriff Wade Harriman states, “Ida County has a unique situation with the number deputies we have. Ida County is a county-wide law in which our deputies patrol all cities in Ida and as well as rural 24/7. We need the deputies to make sure the area is properly covered. The towns in Ida County do not have a police force internally like Storm Lake and Cherokee.”

Buena Vista County has a population of 20,369 and 14 deputies on staff.

Given this knowledge it must be told that the number of deputies per county is not based on population but on statistics factored in by the FBI. Each department is to report via the ORI system all the crime statistics handled by that county’s office.

According to the Cherokee Sheriff’s Department, the stats are actually reported to the state, which then the FBI chooses the statistics they use for factoring the numbers. The FBI does not include small misdemeanors into the numbers. Usually it keeps track of crimes against persons and major crimes.

The reports are received periodically by the individual Sheriff’s Departments, which determine the number of suggested deputies.

“We get some kind of stat report weekly which helps us determine crime trends in the area. It helps to give us focus on what to look for. So the information used to determine how many deputies we should have for a given sheriff department also is used as tool so our deputies can stay on top of patterns” explained Sheriff Jerold Clyde, Cherokee County Sheriff’s department.

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