Orange County court deputy shortage 'critical'

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

Orange County court security is down 20 deputies.

A memo obtained by Channel 9's Kathi Belich shows officials are paying deputies overtime to fill in the gaps at taxpayer expense.

Captain Sandy Carpenter said the shortage is creating a challenge to keep things on schedule.

"We are constantly juggling deputies from courtroom to courtroom depending on how many defendants are being brought into the courtrooms for the judges that are on the bench," Carpenter said.

The memo calls the shortage "critical" and says "we must coordinate our efforts with the judiciary and your commitment to work is the deciding factor of whether or not we can open court."

The memo says there are 15 4-hour overtime slots daily at the Orange County courthouse.

If any courtroom is short-staffed for whatever reason, judges have to hold off on their hearings until the courtrooms are staffed according to the sheriff's procedural standards.

Eyewitness News learned even high-profile cases have been held up until enough deputies could be rounded up.

The sheriff's office said it is working on creating a court deputy position that would pay less than a starting deputy position to cut down on the turnover.