Stewart Co. Sheriff pleads for higher wages amid shortage of deputies, corrections officers
Surrounding counties and cities are offering $4 to $6 more per hour.
DOVER, Tenn. (WSMV) - After watching his number of deputies and corrections officers dwindle, Stewart County Sheriff Frankie Gray is pleading for higher wages.
In the last month, three sheriff’s deputies left the department. In the last year, 20 correctional officers also left the department.
Gray says surrounding counties and cities are offering $4 to $6 more per hour, which has contributed to his hiring struggles.
Currently, Stewart County pays its deputies $15.64 an hour. Correctional officers make $11.90 an hour.
“It’s hard,” Gray said. “I can’t ask them to risk their lives for what they [make] and I don’t know of any place that pays $11.90 cents for a correction officer.”
Gray fears the county’s safety may be jeopardized without higher pay for his employees. Deputies may have to go on patrol without backup, response times could slow, and Gray may have to pull school resource officers (SROs) from schools. At the jail, Gray says, they may have to ship inmates to other facilities.
“We’re going to have to pay these people more money, and we’re arresting a lot of people and we have a lot of people in this facility but to keep putting people in jail, we’re going to have to have correctional officers and we’re going to have good ones.”
Gray intends on offering his budget to the county’s budget committee next week. He’s hoping the county commission will ultimately hear his plea and increase wages.
“I know we got a low tax base and people don’t want their taxes raised, and I’m not advocating raising taxes, but there’s no sense in having property and everything if it’s not going to be protected,” Gray said.
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