COEUR d'ALENE, Idaho - Even after a considerable pay bump, a breakdown provided by the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office shows more than 100 people have left the office for better pay elsewhere, or left law enforcement all together.
"That's 33 percent of our total staff," Sheriff Ben Wolfinger said.
Twenty six patrol deputies, 23 detention and 53 non-deputy personnel have left in a three-year span. According to the sheriff's office, they were able to hire 129 people.
But the staff exodus has Wolfinger concerned.
"Look at it this way," he said. "Would you want someone who has 6 or 8 months on the job investigating a major crime where you're the victim? You want someone with experience and when you start to lose that experience, that's really detrimental to the service that we provide to the public."
The sheriff says the primary reason people are leaving KCSO is for pay and benefits. In numbers provided to KHQ, their biggest competition sits right in their backyard.
A total of 8 deputies left for the Coeur d'Alene Police Department. Another draw is across the state line in Spokane and Spokane County.
If you break it down even more, you find out that deputies pay on a variety of different level is less than average.
Patrol deputies start 8.8 percent below the average, even after a 110 percent pay rise.
For every deputy that leaves, Wolfinger says $100,000 was wasted training them up.
"You look at $100,000 and even for the 49 deputies that left, that's a lot of money, almost $5 million," he said.
Wolfinger says the ball is in the County Commissioner's court.
"They have to take some of that foregone tax money, they don't have to take it all. There's over $9 million in the foregone balance, but they have to take some of that money to fix county pay county wide."
"I'm not asking to be at the top, but I'm tired of being at the bottom and I just ask that we be at the average," Wolfinger added.
It isn't just for the officers, Kootenai County needs more deputies. Since the 2015 bump in salary, Kootenai County has grown almost 6 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.
Wolfinger said he is currently in talks with commissioners and hopes that they can have a budget proposal ready soon.