ESTANCIA, N.M. (KRQE) - With its long country roads, picturesque farm fields and mountain views, it's hard to imagine the seedy side of this New Mexico county.
But with too much crime and too few deputies, Torrance County Sheriff Heath White has been dealing with that dilemma for quite a while. Now he says he's moving from dilemma to desperate.
"The influx of the crime that we get from Albuquerque, the interstate, the smuggling, the narcotics things like that," White told KRQE News 13.
With the crime, court, prisoner-transport requirements and everything else his office is expected to do in the county just east of Albuquerque, White said his deputies--all eight of them--are busy.
"That's eight deputies to cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week," White continued. "Ya know, we have 3,366 square miles of coverage."
A county this size should have 24 deputies, according to White, who said it's been well over a decade since they've had that many.
With so few deputies right now, the sheriff concedes there are times where they have to prioritize which calls they can take and which ones are going to have to wait.
To make it work his deputies often work a ton of overtime, a workload White said is starting to take its toll.
He's expecting to lose at least two deputies and possibly more in the coming months.
"For some of them it's just too much, and you can't blame them," the sheriff said. "They can go and work for another department with a larger staff, work less and make more money."
White said he's asked the county commission for more money to hire more deputies. He's been turned down each time.
"I'm just asking for three deputies," White continued. "If the commission gives me three deputies I'll make it work."
He's not giving up on the idea yet, but in the meantime he said his department will have to continue to make do.
"Unfortunately you have to pick and choose what you can do and what you can't do with the amount of resources you have," White said.
The sheriff said New Mexico State Police and other agencies help when they can but may not get there quickly when they're needed.
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