Thursday, September 20, 2012
Sheriff L.C. Knight came to Dorchester County Council with a twofold request Monday: higher pay and more deputies.
Knight told council he regularly loses deputies to nearby jurisdictions that offer more pay to experienced officers.
An officer with a few years of experience recently resigned to work for North Charleston, patrolling basically the same area but making an additional $5,000, Knight said.
“How are you going to tell a young guy who’s got a family, ‘Please don’t leave’?” Knight said.
Knight said he wants to increase base pay. Then, he wants to offer step increases so officers will make more as they have more experience.
Currently, a deputy hired today would make the same salary as some of his deputies who were hired in 2005, he said.
Dorchester County doesn’t offer additional pay based on education, bilingual ability, or performance evaluations, he said.
Some surrounding jurisdictions give the sheriff or police chief flexibility to decide how much to pay each new hire.
Knight said he doesn’t think such flexibility is a good idea and would instead prefer a 3 percent increase in base pay.
Starting pay for uncertified deputies in Dorchester County is $30,505 and for certified deputies is $33,861, Knight said.
That’s similar to Summerville, where uncertified officers start at $30,800, Knight said, but less than Charleston at $38,000 for an applicant with a bachelor’s degree, Mt. Pleasant at $35,958, North Charleston at $35,616 and Charleston County at $33,758.
Berkeley County is in the process of adjusting its salary schedule, which currently starts at $25,580 for an uncertified deputy, Knight said.
Knight cited the additional workload added by changes to state law and budget cuts at the S.C. Highway Patrol as reasons for needing more deputies.
Because the highway patrol is working with a “skeleton crew,” his deputies responded to calls on Interstates 95 and 26 a total of 818 times between Jan. 1 and Aug. 9, Knight said.
Changes to monitoring of sex offenders and more stringent requirements for preserving evidence in the most serious cases also mean more work, he said.
Knight said he has 196 people working in the sheriff’s office, including 60 certified deputies, 18 corporals, 18 sergeants, 17 lieutenants, six captains and 15 dispatchers.
He said there are 70 people working at the detention center, including 36 officers and 13 corporals.