Deputy patrol vehicles

Klamath County Sheriff’s Office vehicles

Well before he ever donned a badge and uniform, Chris Kaber pulled and stacked lumber for Weyerhaeuser.

The now-Klamath County Sheriff knew a few law enforcement officers at the time and in 1984 a mutual friend encouraged him to pursue a career he hadn’t considered before.

“I had eight hours to think about it while I pulled lumber and stacked it, thinking about my future, and I realized that perhaps I should look at other options,” said Kaber, who by the end of his shift said he made it his mission to work in law enforcement.

Now, with multiple positions open for patrol deputies, at the sheriff’s office, and in the Klamath County Jail — but with less applicants than in the past — Kaber said he’s wondering if there’s others like him in the community who might fit into law enforcement but haven’t considered it.

“I just think people ought to know that there are other opportunities, in our community, to give back and and enter a rewarding career at the same time,” Kaber said.

With the number of positions open, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office is below what Kaber said he would call a minimum level of staffing. Job applications aren’t pouring in like they used to, something that Kaber said could put the county at risk in the long term.

“There used to be a time when we would have three or four positions open, and we would have 50 applicants,” Kaber said. “And now, we open those positions up for sometimes weeks at a time, and we only end up with 20 or so. So I got to believe that there’s more qualified people in our county that would consider applying for some of these jobs.”

Kaber said his goal is for the office to be more proactive than reactive to crime, but it’s tough to aggressively pursue unlawful activities like illegal marijuana grows if the office is short on deputies, jail or support staff.

“There is a degree of lawlessness that we will never get ahead of, as long as we don’t have full positions and full compliments of law enforcement officers to be proactive. At the moment, well, not just at the moment, for a while now, we’ve been reactive.”

The Klamath County website’s employment page is the best place to find the job listings, Kaber said. The listing site — klamathcounty.applicantpro.com/jobs/ — says it has 14 total jobs open across the county, but many of the listings, like for say patrol deputy, has multiple open positions even if there’s only one job listing, Kaber said.

“I’m simply not just speaking for myself, I’m speaking for every department in the county that has open jobs,” Kaber said. “We will do better filling those jobs if we have a higher number of applicants, because we will be able to better choose those people.”

— Reporter Rick Childress can be reached at (541) 851-7301 or rchildress@heraldandnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RickOChildress