TYLER, Texas (KETK) — This week, the Smith County Commissioners Court approved next year’s budget. It includes more deputies for the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, and Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said things are looking up.

“The fiscal year 2023 budget includes five new patrol deputy positions, which are very much needed,” said Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.

Sheriff Smith said additional deputies have been needed for a while. His office is down by about two employees based on the population size.

“It’s not where we need to be to really protect and serve the citizens of Smith County the way they should be able to,” said Sheriff Smith.

Sheriff Smith and his team are researching what areas of the county that new deputies should be placed to patrol and what shift they should work.

“As we’ve queried our Spillman database, and determined when most of our priority one and priority two calls, which are calls that need to be responded to as soon as possible, emergency calls. And we’re going to find out when they are and we are going to put the extra positions in that location to have more personnel on the streets at that time,” said Sheriff Smith.

Finding people to fill the positions hasn’t been easy.

“One thing we are having that I have never seen before is they are coming from states that have legalized marijuana, and they use it, and then they come here, and we have a policy that you can’t have used it in the last three years,” said Sheriff Smith.

To help find more candidates the commissioners court also approved a change that allows the sheriff’s office to get creative with their recruitment.

“To hire personnel straight out of junior college, out of TJC, UT Tyler, Texas College and without being certified as a law enforcement officer,” said Sheriff Smith.

The sheriff hopes they can fill these positions quickly to serve Smith County to its fullest potential.

To apply to open positions with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, click here.

Stay up-to-date with the latest local news, sports, weather, politics and more using the KETK mobile app.