Our deputies deserve a raise

Toward the end of the latest Custer County Commission meeting the commission went into executive session to discuss a wage study being conducted for county employees at the behest of the commission. We aren’t privy to what was discussed or what recommendations were made at this meeting, but we know one thing for sure: our sheriff’s office deputies deserve a raise.
Over the course of the last few months, the sheriff’s office has experienced a tremendous amount of turnover. And, while we can’t say for certain all of the deputies are leaving over pay, we believe it is safe to say that had to be the reason for some of them, or at the very least factored into the decision.
You could make the case that every law enforcement officer across the country deserves a raise. A profession that was once held in the highest of esteem in many parts of the country (and still is held in that regard by non-professional malcontents) is now derided because it has become the cool thing to do. There are millions upon millions of police-citizen interactions across the country on a daily basis, 99.9 percent of which end in a positive outcome. That .1 percent, however, when they go bad, give those who hate the police a chance to pounce. That isn’t to say police are infalliable and are right 100 percent of the time. But the narrative that “all cops are bad guys” and are out indiscriminately hunting down people of color is so outlandish it really isn’t worthy of a response. Yet, here we are.
In Custer County, sheriff’s office deputies average around $25 to $26 an hour if they are not in a supervisor position, which if you do the math, equates to around $52,000 if there is no overtime involved. That is not nearly enough for a profession where the people doing it are literally putting their life on the line every time they punch the clock. People aren’t getting any saner, and crime isn’t decreasing. It’s going up, and our deputies are having to answer more and more calls, many of which are downright dangerous. If we want people who are willing to continue to do that, we have to compensate them appropriately. Our deputies are also paid less than deputies or police officers in many surrounding counties and towns, and signficiantly less than South Dakota Highway Patrol troopers. Supervisor pay in particular lags. In some cases, our supervisor positions in the sheriff’s office are $4 to $5 an hour behind. Conservation officers in Custer State Park get paid at least $31 an hour and get subsidized housing. Highway Patrol Troopers start at around that, and wages go up signficantly as they are promoted, and can make up to six figures. By the way, all of this is earned. They don’t deserve less—our deputies deserve more.
Nobody likes paying more taxes. We don’t either. But in terms of bang for the buck, we can’t think of a better expense then law enforcement. The thin blue line that protects us from those who would do us harm is invaluable, and shouldn’t be an afterthought when it comes to pay. They also need to be able to afford a place to live in our community, which is an entirely sperate issue.
Perhaps all county employees deserve a raise. While that may very well be the case, one thing we know for sure is that our deputies do. They are absolutely essential in a community, and we know we speak for the town when we say we back the blue. We are in full support of whatever it takes to get that done. We have no doubt the commissioners feel the same way.

User login