FAYETTEVILLE — There will soon be fewer deputies keeping people safe in Cumberland County. A budget crunch is forcing Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler to sharply trim his staff.
As mandated by the county manager, the budget has to be cut by 18 percent. That translates to 43 deputies, 12 civilian employees, 10 jail employees, 94 crossing guards being laid off, and 14 vacancies that will not be filled.
Behind every one of the jobs eliminated is a face, and behind many, a family as well.
Deputy Tom Cleveland is one of them. A 22-year Air Force veteran, Cleveland took a cut in pay to work for the department. He began working for courthouse security two months ago.
Married, with kids, he learned Thursday he is being laid off.
"I'm literally dumbfounded," says Cleveland. "It's like someone yanked the rug out from under you," he says. "Until it hits you, there's no way to prepare."
It is not just new officers, either. Sheriff Butler says that he has been forced to cut nearly a fifth of his force across the board - patrol, training, civilians, majors and sergeants.
"This has been agonizing for me as a sheriff," he says. "This is probably the worst, because dealing with people and families, it gets very personal to me."
Sheriff Butler says that the layoffs, which go into effect at the end of June, will affect public safety and response time in Cumberland County.
The County Commission meets on Tuesday. It has not yet voted on the reduced budget, but have all but ruled out a tax increase to prevent the layoffs.