By COLE REIF
Great Bend Post
Last week, the announcement was made that several members of the Great Bend Police Department were affected by quarantines of possible exposure to COVID-19 or actual positive cases.
Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir received a call from a Police Department Captain last Wednesday. The Police Captain notified the Sheriff that the Police Department is running out of personnel because of coronavirus issues. The Police Department had officers working five, six or sometimes seven days straight.
Effective last Wednesday, Sheriff Bellendir notified 911 Communications, that a Sheriff’s deputy will respond to any death, aggravated battery or robbery within the City of Great Bend.
"I have also allowed at this point, Sheriff's deputies to volunteer for overtime at peak times of activity...Friday or Saturday nights," said Bellendir. "I am allowing one extra deputy per shift to assist the City of Great Bend for any routine calls that may come in."
Bellendir was also informed that the Great Bend Police Department was moving detectives to uniform road patrol positions because of the staff shortage.
"I don't know how long I'm going to continue this," said Bellendir. "It's going to depend on what happens over there and what develops in the other police departments. "If they get two guys affected in Ellinwood or Hoisington...they're done."
The Sheriff warned the Barton County Commission Monday that extra assistance for the City of Great Bend may put a serious dent into his overtime which was at 58% of budget as of Monday.
"This is probably going to wreck my overtime budget," said Bellendir. "I'll probably still come in under budget overall, but there is a possibility it is going to wreck us."
Commissioner Jennifer Schartz was hopeful that the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) funding could absorb the extra overtime expense. The funding is charged with leading Kansas communities in recovery from the effects of COVD-19.