County considering raises for sheriff’s deputies and detention officers


County considering raises for sheriff’s deputies and detention officers
March 02
03:40 2017
By Todd Luck
The Chronicle
Forsyth County commissioners may soon consider giving sheriff’s deputies and detention officers a raise to help with recruitment challenges.
The starting pay for a sheriff’s deputy is currently $34,807, and last month Forsyth County commissioners heard ideas to increase it to $36,250 to match an anticipated raise in starting pay for the Winston-Salem Police Department, which is the closest competing agency. Starting pay for detention officers would increase from $32,487 to $35,163. Current employees would see a pay raise to compensate for the change.
“If the City of Winston-Salem increases their pay, we want to match what the city is doing,” Forsyth County Human Resources Director Shontell Robinson told commissioners at their winter work session.
Recruiting officers is becoming a challenge for law enforcement agencies nationwide. Chief Deputy Brad Stanley said that enrollment in Basic Enforcement Training classes is down 150 percent statewide. He thought last year’s mass shootings targeting police were among the reasons for declining interest in law enforcement careers.
“People are not energized and enthused about getting into law enforcement,” said Stanley.
During the meeting, he said the Sheriff’s Office had 64 vacancies, 43 of which were at the detention center, resulting in mandatory overtime.
Commissioners liked a version of the pay plan that would give current employees a raise equal to 50 percent of the difference between their current salary and the new market rate created by the starting salary increase. This could cost the county up to $520,000.
Stanley said it won’t solve all the recruiting problems, but will help make the Sheriff’s Office more attractive to the increasingly small amount of recruits that law enforcement agencies are competing for.
“I believe it will help because, currently, when you look where we’re at with the comparable counties in our geographic area, with the city police department, we are dead last on the starting pay grade for a law enforcement officer,” he said.
An option for a twenty-five percent raise costing up to $250,000 was discussed, but wasn’t supported by the Sheriff’s Office because  77 percent of detention officers, who are currently receiving a temporary 65 cent shift differential, would’ve actually made less.
There were also options for a 75 percent increase that would cost up to $780,000 and a 100 percent that would cost up to $1.06 million.
The Sheriff’s Office’s turnover rate, 14.57 percent, is actually better than the overall county turnover rate of 18.13 percent.
The city has been implementing across the board raises for the WSPD to bring officer wages closer to market rates after concerns about officer retention were brought before the City Council in 2015.

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