Southern Illinois sheriff’s department lays off 14 employees as county faces financial emergency

PERRY COUNTY, IL — Fewer deputies to keep you safe: that’s the reality people in Perry County, Illinois, are dealing with.

The sheriff had to lay off 14 people after his office took a budget cut of $534,000. It’s part of a budget crisis the county is facing.

Fourteen people who swore to protect and serve are now out of a job. Perry County Sheriff Steve Bareis said now they’ll have to do more with less.

“My biggest concern is safety. We will have 24-hour patrol, but there’ll be fewer people to respond. We’ll have to partner with local agencies within municipalities and state police to respond to calls,” said Bareis.

The people laid off include four full-time deputies from patrol, three part-time deputies three full-time corrections officers and four part-time corrections officers.

That leaves five deputies and the sheriff.

“I’m grieved by the cuts we’ve had to make. This impacts not just employees, but relationships and friends,” said Bareis.

He said the unknown is what worries him the most. “Our safety is at the forefront. There’s a genuine concern for officer safety on the street as well as the jail, and how we can respond, and will there be back up,” said Bareis.

Bill McDonnough, who lives in the county, said he’s concerned about response times. “It’s going to be tough. The county is spread out a lot. If someone on the east side of the county it’ll take a while to get to the west side,” he said.

Bareis said he’s looking into different options to try to keep the same level of safety for officers and neighbors.

“I’m looking at if we have an option to increase our sheriffs auxiliary of volunteers, maybe ride out with a deputy on the night shift,” said Bareis.

He plans to reassess things in the next several months and hopes to rehire the people they lost. Until then, he’s asking the community for support.

“We are going to do everything we can to provide a safe environment,” said Bareis.

The last day for those laid-off workers is May 31.

There is a deputy who works as a school resource officer. His job will not be impacted because of his contract with the school. Bareis said it probably won’t be until the next fiscal year until his office sees significant changes.