The State Police's Crimes Against Children Unit, which has about 16 officers, is "extremely understaffed," he said.
"They're overwhelmed with work. As we speak, we have a 100 percent conviction rate. That tells me we are just shooting fish in a barrel. We work the cases we know we can grab and work from A to Z and get them through the system and move on to the next," he said.
The agency could target, recruit and train classes of 50 troopers each annually if it had sufficient funding, Smithers said.
"If we knew that that funding was available over the course of the next five years to the point where we could go out and target people in our areas of need, it would be a simple process," Smithers said.
Patterson, the agency's recruitment coordinator, said he is trying to recruit more minority candidates. But finding and retaining talent is a challenge because of money and other issues.
He said that there are misperceptions about law enforcement in general and a general lack of knowledge about what troopers do. There also are difficulties enticing candidates to go to places in need, such as McDowell County.
Recently, 53 people were vetted and ready to take the class needed to become troopers. But the class was delayed because of funding constraints, he said.