Funding is a major issue for many sheriff departments in Missouri

For many years, county sheriff departments across the state of Missouri have faced issues with funding.

Now, as lawmakers get ready to head back to the capital next month, one issue they could face is how to increase what some consider to be a funding shortfall.

David Parrish has been sheriff of Lewis County for the past 12 years and it's been the same story for his entire career as sheriff when it comes to funding from the state for county sheriff departments.

"We cannot keep being considered the chief law enforcement officer of the county if our funding level and our pay not equal to what other agencies are paying and that includes municipalities and state agencies," Parrish said.

Parrish also said it's hard to keep deputies and jailers on staff when they can go to other places and make as much as 50 to 100 percent more then what they're paid in Lewis County. Right now, a Lewis County jailer makes $8.50 an hour while a road deputy makes about $26,000 a year. Parrish said he has three full time and one part time jailer on staff and four road deputies. All for a department that's open 24 hours a day seven days a week.

"We have to take a look at what a peace officer is worth in Lewis County and if we're going to ask these people to protect us then I think they deserve the same treatment, the same respect as any licensed peace officer," Parrish said.

For Missouri State Representative Craig Redmon of Canton, he realizes the disparity and said there needs to be some solution to the problem. An interim committee from the state legislature recently looked at the problem and could make recommendations in 2013.

"There's always room for compromise in legislation so it will be one of those deals that we need to get the legislation, examine it hear from all sides and and make the best decision we can," Redmon said.

But for now, Sheriff Parrish still clings to the money he is getting through state and local taxes and knows that changes must be made so departments like his across the state can survive and still provide service that's required under state law.