WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been a year since the Target 12 investigators reported that a loophole was causing a shortage of working sheriffs in Rhode Island.
The law has since changed because of the investigation and on Friday, 17 recruits joined the force after graduating from the Rhode Island Division of Sheriff’s Training Academy.
Valedictorian John Dubois and his fellow classmates will be responsible for the custody, safety and well being of prisoners and defendants in the courts.
“We have a high number of military veterans,” Dubois said. “I think that ability, and coming from prior service, really helped the class come together in the law enforcement community.”
Judge Netti Vogel tells Eyewitness News there’s been a need for qualified sheriffs for years in Rhode Island. She’s ready for the new recruits to get to work so that she can do the same.
“We literally can’t take the bench if we don’t have adequate sheriffs,” she said. “We can’t do the people’s business without security.”
Target 12 discovered last year that one of the reasons for the shortage was due to a large number of sheriffs listed as injured on duty (IOD).
Chief Sheriff David DeCesare said the number of sheriffs out on IOD has gone from 23 to 14 over the course of this year.
“We made a significant decrease in the people going out on IOD thanks to the legislation that was changed in July,” DeCesare said. “To say they are a welcomed addition to our ranks would be a great understatement.”
The graduates still have to undergo some training before they can report for duty. DeCesare said there’s still a need for more sheriffs and that recruiting the next class of deputies will begin as soon as possible.