GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – A consultant hired by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department says a “shocking” number of deputies — nearly two thirds of the department — are either planning to leave or are at risk of leaving while only one third of Jeffco deputies are committed to staying long-term.

“I was very surprised and quite frankly concerned about it,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader. He said the survey conducted last October by The Loyalty Partners was prompted by a 20 percent attrition rate in the department in the first six months of 2014.

“We need to get our arms around that,” said Shrader.

A total of 568 sheriffs department employees, or 72.6 percent of the department, responded to the survey.

– 5.8% said they plan to retire soon

– 15.8% said they plan to leave the department for another opportunity.

– 41.5% said they are undecided

– Only 36.7% are committed to staying long- term, according to the survey

“The numbers are shocking in that they indicate that nearly two-thirds of our workforce are planning to leave or are at risk of leaving, while only slightly over one-third are planning on staying long term,” wrote the consultants.

They called the impending and potential departures “a serious situation throughout the entire organization.” They called the numbers “alarming,” writing that “an unbelievable 57 percent of our respondents are at risk of leaving. I believe this constitutes an urgent need for action.”

Most of the deputies and civilian personnel who said they are considering leaving said the major factors were pay, benefits and opportunities for advancement.

However 41 percent of the employees said they believed their opinions were not important.

“You have to improve in this area,” wrote the consultants.

Sheriff Shrader told CBS4 his department is already addressing issues raised in the survey. He said about $2.4 million has been added to the department’s salary budget for this year. He also said the department is undergoing a “slight reorganization” to cut the number of administrators and command officers and “put them in roles where they will be more beneficial.”

In coming weeks, Shrader said he will meet with employee representatives to discuss the survey and craft a new strategic plan for the department.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.