By Camaron Abundes
LEA COUNTY, NM- Staff shortages over the last decade made it impossible for the Lea County Sheriff's Department to keep deputies out on patrol after midnight, creating a virtual blind spot within the department.
"There was a window of time where there wasn't anybody out patrolling," Sheriff Rod Coffman, said.
Coffman says Deputies often went in early or left late in order to fill in the gap left by vacant shift but most days emergency calls went out according to a rotating on call list.
Just in the last six months, Coffman tells NewsWest 9, they've created a department recruiter position, advertised in areas of the country experiencing a slowing economy, and started a web site.
"We've been able to attract enough people so that we can safely put together a midnight shift," Coffman said.
The department added four new positions for the midnight shift and hired 9 people to bring them to nearly full staff. Coffman says 2 other positions are still available, but they are interviewing four applicants.
"We do have people that are out in the field 24 hours so whether it be people stealing copper, people stealing oil field equipment, or trafficking meth. We've got the eyes and ears out there now," Coffman said.