JEFFERSON COUNTY - The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is losing an alarming number of deputies.
More than 60 deputies in two years have left for higher-paying jobs. Attrition has forced the Sheriff to cut programs to maintain patrols.
"It would have to get to a very, very critical level for us to even consider school resource officers," JeffCo Sheriff Ted Mink said. "Right now, we are evaluating on a daily basis the number of people we need to put on the streets and answer calls."
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Despite want the sheriff said, some worry the school resource officer program will be next on the chopping block.
Wendy Rubin is the principal of Chatfield High School in Jefferson County.
"We're approaching 1,900 students," she said. "We're larger than a lot of small towns. To me, it's unimaginable to function without an SRO program in this school."
Chatfield has two school resource officers. They're paid for and trained by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
Eleven deputies total serve in various schools located out of the city limits. It's a district famous for many good things and infamous for a few.
"We do have a history here in JeffCo of unimaginable school violence," Rubin said. "I think that in and of itself is a critical underpinning of the importance of having a school resource officer program where we have deputies in our schools."
The officers aren't being assigned back to patrol yet. However, the department they work for is losing people fast and John McDonald, the executive director of Safety, Security and Emergency Management for JeffCo Schools, is worried.
"I know that it's a last resort for him, and I respect Sheriff Mink tremendously," McDonald said. "I also know that critical mass is fast approaching, and we have to do something as a community right now. I don't believe we can wait. This is a conversation that demands solutions and we need to start talking about it very quickly."
Jefferson County Commissioners are the ones looking for solutions. They didn't respond to 9NEWS requests for comment Wednesday. However, we caught one commissioner at a speaking engagement Tuesday night.
"There is an option to go in and raise the mill levy," Commissioner Don Rosier said. "Right now we're spending $17-20 million more than what is coming in. We're using our savings account to offset that. Raising [the mill levy] would bring us right about $12 million. We still have a shortfall."
Some JeffCo parents say a small mill levy is a viable solution that doesn't require voter approval.
"It's $30 we're talking about to keep people safe," PTA member Shawna Fritzler said. "We can give up five Starbucks a year?"
It would take the vote of the commissioners.
The sheriff's office has said it's not feasible for them to determine how many more deputies would have to leave before they're forced to move school resource officers to regular patrol duties.
The sheriff goes to the county commissioners in October to present his budget and ask for more money.
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