CARO — Never before has the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Office brought in this many new trainees at once.
But we are living in a unique time.
On Monday, five new deputies arrived at the sheriff’s office, 420 Court St. in Caro, to begin training for the department’s road patrol.
“The sheriff (Glen Skrent) calls them the ‘Fab Five,’” said Tuscola County Undersheriff Robert Baxter.
Baxter said police departments everywhere are struggling to maintain a full staff in recent years.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with COVID,” he said. “Law enforcement just doesn’t seem to be the most desired profession these days. We’ve had some deputies retire, lost a few to other departments and some went to a different profession.”
At full str ength, the sheriff’s office uniform division would have about 23 employees. The five new hires bring that total to 19.
The new deputies are: Marcus Armstrong, 22, of Clifford; Samuel Gaiser, 20, of Kingston; Tiffany Gunlock, 26, of Bay City; Jonathon Perry, 32, of Mayville; and Jacob Preston, 23, of Saginaw.
All are a local, and each of them graduated this month from the Delta College Law Enforcement and Corrections Training program.
Lieutenant Ted Hull, who oversees the office’s road patrol, said this is by far the most new recruits he’s seen begin at the same time.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had more than two,” he said. “It will be stressful, but it’s a good kind of stress. The stress of training new deputies is much better than the stress of not having enough deputies.”
The Delta College training program, which lasted from January to May, included about 20 graduates, Baxter said.
“Everyone in our region is hiring, so we have to compete with everyone,” Baxter said. “It’s impressive that we were able to get five of them.”
The new deputies will spend the week learning administrative policies, completing paperwork and receiving equipment, Baxter said. After that, they will partner up with experienced deputies and gain experience on the roads of Tuscola County. In about three months, the recruits will begin patrolling the county on their own.