NOBLE COUNTY, Ind. (WFFT) - Police departments in northeast Indiana are having a hard time keeping officers on the road.
"The perception of the police over the past several years has been disturbing," said Rome City Marshal Jim Sheffield.
That's one of the reasons fewer officers are on the streets in Rome City.
The small town only has two full time officers, including Sheffield. The rest are part-time or volunteer.
Sheffield said those officers just aren't picking up the shifts they used to.
"It's just when it comes to a choice of being at home when they've worked in their other job or when they have an opportunity to work a part time job," Sheffield said.
That means there are times when no Rome City officers are patrolling the streets.
"The Sheriff's Department here in Noble County has been absolutely fantastic in covering the calls for us and working the calls for us when we have coverage shortages," said Sheffield.
Noble County Sheriff Max Webber is making changes to make that easier. He said he's having deputies go to 12 hour shifts so he can have more deputies out patrolling the county.
"I will actually go to three to sometimes even four or some days five guys on per shift," said Webber.
That means more deputies to help Rome City and other areas.
"To deter crime or to slow speeding vehicles down you have to have that visibility and this gives us the opportunity to place one more vehicle out on the roadway," said Webber.
He is hoping the shift changes will help retain many deputies, who are now leaving for better paying opportunities.
Webber is hoping a three day weekend every other weekend will help them want to stick around.
"One of my goals is to make sure they enjoy their lives and their families and being able to do things with their children and not just focusing on work all the time," he said.
Both departments are told me they are working on getting raises for their officers.
Webber said he will look at the 12 hour shifts in about six months to see how they are working.
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