ALEXANDRIA, S.D. — The Hanson County Sheriff’s Office remains understaffed, even though there are more full-time law enforcement officers today than ever before.

Deputy Brandon Wingert began working full-time in Alexandria in September, marking the first time the sheriff’s office has employed two deputies at the same time, The Daily Republic ( reported. But even with a sheriff and two deputies, Sheriff Randy Bartlett said the office is still short-handed.

The office works on eight-hour shifts, but the officers often work for longer and must be ready to respond to calls for service 24 hours per day. Bartlett said the deputies don’t get nights or holidays off.

“There’s a lot of jobs out there that offer more money, and unless someone is really dedicated to making a difference, it’s really tough to get good, qualified people to work for the wages they’re offering,” Bartlett said. “You have to really want to do what you’re doing to get any gratification out of this job.”

Many sheriff’s departments in South Dakota are in the same predicament as more than 80 percent have fewer than five officers, Bartlett said.

“There’s been numerous deputies, either when I was still a deputy or now as a sheriff, who have moved on in their law enforcement career to places where they’re not as busy as they were in Moody County, but they get paid better,” said Moody County Sheriff Troy Wellman, vice president and future president of the South Dakota Sheriff’s Association.

A request to hire a second deputy in the spring has been approved by the county commission, said Bartlett. However it did not increase the sheriff’s office budget to do so.

Information from: The Daily Republic,