BEL AIR, Md. - A year after Senior Deputy Pat Dailey died in an ambush, his youngest son, Tyler, signed on as the first cadet at the Harford County Sheriff's Office.
"On that day, February 10th, I knew what I wanted to do,” said Dailey, “I knew I wanted to be a deputy with the sheriff's office and I knew my family knew that and that's all I wanted to do."
But Tyler Dailey is the exception, and Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler has been struggling to fill vacancies since he took office.
"I certainly think it plays a large part in a narrative that's out there that's anti-police,” said Gahler, “If you're a young man or woman and you're thinking of a career in law enforcement and you're seeing the number of police officers that are being killed or attacked across the country, it's a scary profession."
In hopes of attracting qualified, courageous candidates who can overcome that fear, the Sheriff's Office has signed an agreement with the U.S. Army with the hope of signing on veterans as they transition out of their military service.
The Army has had trouble boosting its own ranks in recent years and similar agreements with big companies like Amazon, General Motors and Comcast offer the chance at good jobs as civilians if recruits first develop the skills of a soldier.
"30 percent qualify for Army service and of them, we still have to take them through qualification standards, they have to test and they have to qualify for service,” said Lt. Col. Amanda Iden, Baltimore Recruiting Battalion Commander, “So they challenge is finding the people, just like the police force, that want to join and are willing to do what it takes to join."
That means earning a high school degree, staying physically fit, passing a drug test and avoiding incarceration---more than a few good men and women who could serve their country and then their communities where others come up short.
Since he took office in 2014, the Sheriff Gahler says he's never filled all of his vacancies in law enforcement or corrections with an academy class, and right now, his department has 15 openings that remain unfilled.