Butte County spans about 2,300 square miles, and there are only three sheriff's deputies to cover all that ground; so with an increase in population and traffic throughout the county due to the North Dakota oil boom, the sheriff's office is stretched pretty thin. But help is on the way.
Even off duty, at home with his family, Deputy Tristan Clements is on call. And the call for duty has the phone ringing off the hook lately. "For the number of times I've been called out personally, I couldn't even give you a number, it's substantial and it's not just me," said Clements
Last year alone in Butte County there were 105 calls for service where off duty officers were requested; Clements says it's part of the lifestyle. "Not only for me as the deputy, but for my family, I mean they know that there's going to be times that I don't make it to certain events or certain functions and they know that when my phones rings I'm going to go," said Clements
And up until recently, getting called to work was no problem. "The deputies are set up on a salary pay scale, they would respond for no extra compensation on their days off if called upon," said Butte County Sheriff Fred Lamphere.
But with an increased call volume due to population growth and traffic from the Bakken oil fields, and the stacks of paperwork that go with all those calls, the department is overwhelmed. "We are working them more and I think our goal and my goal is to take care of the people we have," said Lamphere.
Take care of them with overtime pay when their called from home; which was approved this week by the Butte County Commission. "Their rate of pay is around $18.40 an hour so their overtime pay is about $27.60 an hour," said Lamphere. "They deserve it."
While it won't mean fewer hours for the deputies, Clements says the time away from home won't cost so much. "It's a big help," said Clements.
Sheriff Lamphere says he's been rallying to hire another deputy for the past couple of years, but the county's budget can't support it.