The Contra Costa County Sheriff says too many of his deputies are leaving for other opportunities.
Sheriff David Livingston tells NBC Bay Area he's never seen it this bad. Due to staffing issues, the department might have to scale back on its investigative unit, which would mean only violent crimes would be investigated, not misdemeanors.
Livingston says, in some cases, emergency response times have increased by almost two minutes.
"The reality is we need officers," he said. "We need deputies that can respond to those calls for service."
But fewer recruits are entering the department. Livingston says the number of applicants has decreased by 40 percent since 2013, and at the same time, a record number of sheriff's deputies have left.
"We've lost about 110 deputies in the last five years," Livingston said. "We've lost over 60 deputies this year alone...seven just in October as well."
Livingston says those deputies are "going primarily to other agencies in the Bay Area that pay more."
According to a new report produced by the department, deputy sheriffs are going to other agencies like BART, Richmond or Antioch, to name a few. In addition to slowed response times, the department has already had to cut marine patrols and scale back on regular patrols in areas like Walnut Creek and Concord.
Livingston says he even has to consider scaling back on investigations.
"There are a lot of the lower level cases that our community expects and expects our office to deliver professional service, but when have so many people leaving...something has to give," he said.
The sheriff plans to presents his findings to the board of supervisors on Tuesday to hopefully come up with a new contract that will allow his department to pay its deputy more. They currently receive 15 percent below other agencies.