BERRIEN COUNTY – A public outcry and some money shuffling means the Berrien County Sheriff's Department will only lose one officer in next year's budget cuts.
The county is facing a $300,000 deficit.
To help balance the budget, departments countywide have eliminated 19 positions, many of them already vacant.
Weeks ago, people circulated a petition, fearing several deputies would be laid off, but the sheriff's department will only lose one drug unit officer.
Sheriff Paul Bailey says he was able to use some special fund money to help pay to keep the deputy's road patrol positions.
“We are very pleased in these tough times that we can move forward and still have adequate public safety out there,” said Bailey.
Many want to see more cops on the streets.
"If we see something unusual and we call dispatch, it might take 20 minutes for a police officer to get here, because they are spread so thin," said Walter Zych of the Berrien County Neighborhood Watch program. "At times, there are only 4 officers to cover the whole county. That's ridiculous when you consider the distance between New Buffalo and Niles."
Bailey says since 2001, the sheriff's department has had to eliminate 16 deputy positions because of loss of revenue in the county.
Under next year's budget, positions are also being eliminated in the trial court system.