CHARLESTON, Ill., (WCIA) — The Coles County Sheriff’s Department said they’ve seen the number of officer candidates go down over the past four years.

Sheriff Kent Martin said they have a small pool of people to pull from, to begin with, and that number usually goes down again after they go through tests and interviews.

He knows there could be many reasons behind this, such as people going to work in other places with less demanding schedules.

Martin said he hasn’t seen a decline like this before and said being short-staffed presents more challenges. That can mean having to work longer hours and more days.

He said that can take a toll on officers mentally and emotionally.

“We can’t close early one day or take a long weekend or just shut the door and say we don’t have anybody available today,” Martin explained. “Continuing to provide services 24 hours a day 7 days a week…it takes a lot of people. When that number gets low and you can’t replenish that number, it just has all these other consequences you don’t necessarily think of.”

To fix that, he’s looking at other sources for applicants. He’s searching outside of the Mattoon and Charleston areas, talking to community colleges and encouraging people who may not have a law enforcement background to bring some of their other skills to the table.