Twenty new deputies could soon be added to the Madison County Sheriff's Office's force, and the federal government could pick up most of the tab.
Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office got the go ahead from the Madison County Commission to apply for a community policing grant funded by the Department of Justice. Deputies said it could add double the amount of positions they added last year.
Investigator Brent Patterson with the sheriff's office said as the county continues to grow the sheriff's office will need more deputies.
"Just last year alone, we ran about 80,000 calls for service. Having 20 additional deputies, it will be huge, significantly huge for us," he explained.
Patterson said the department is applying for a grant from the US Department of Justice.
If awarded the grant, the federal government would cover 75 percent of the tab to hire and pay the officers for the first three years they work for the sheriff's office. He explained it would save the office millions.
"We're saving the county and taxpayers roughly $2.5 million over the next 3 years," he said.
Just last month, Sheriff Kevin Turner told WAAY 31 he added 10 additional deputy positions in 2019 and the sheriff's office was fully staffed with 134 deputies. Turner said then he didn't think they would be able to get funding exclusively from the commission again for more positions for at least 2 years.
The grant could change that. Something each commissioner recognized was necessary with the growth in Madison County.
"It's a great way for us to get cops on the street as fast as we can," Madison County Commissioner Phil Vandiver said.
Patterson explained he thinks it's crucial to continue to keep people in the county safe.
"We're able to put more additional law enforcement personnel on the road. At the end of the day, the safety and security of the people in Madison County is our No. 1 priority," Patterson added.
The sheriff's office won't find out if they're awarded the grant until this spring and would start the hiring process then as well if it is awarded.