GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. – Officer M. Owens is a new detention officer with the Guilford County Sheriff's Office.
It’s a job she started last year after first pursuing a career in social work.
"It's definitely just something that life kind of directed me to," Owens said.
She's the kind of new hire Major Chuck Williamson says has been hard to find lately.
"We hit kind of the perfect storm, with what's going on in the community and perception of policing," Williamson said.
There are currently 52 openings for detention officers with the sheriff's office, according to Williamson.
It’s a huge gap he says that's been hard to fill.
"In 2012, we may have had 650 applications, where as in 2016 we had a little over 200," he said. "The pool is shrinking."
On July 1st, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office started the Recruit-a-Buddy program.
Officers get a $500 bonus for each new hire they recommend after that person completes their first year.
So far, two people have been hired through the program.
"We expect that to grow as the word gets out," Williamson said.
They've also made billboards, radio ads, and are getting the word out through social media.
"If you're a Twitter user or a Facebook user, you can link to our page," he said.
Williamson says being short staffed has put a strain on officers.
"If we don't make inroads and fill positions, you'll lose more officers because of the inherent stress that's there," he said.
Many of the detention officers are working longer hours than normal as a result, according to Williamson.
"We don't want to add stress by officers coming in tired being worried about whether they have back up," he said.
In the past 12 months, the sheriff's office has spent about $1 million in overtime, according to Williamson.
"It's a big budgetary hit," he said.