Sheriff to County Council: Deputies deserve a raise

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The following is the full text of a letter dated March 1 from Dorchester County Sheriff James W. Phillips Jr. to the Dorchester County Council, regarding the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

I am writing for the purpose of bringing your attention to the Budget request from the Sheriff’s Office for FY 22. The document requests a $2, across-the-board increase for all employees at the Sheriff’s Office, as well as Shift Differential and Signing Bonuses. These items would bring us in line with the other members of Public Safety. Law Enforcement is under attack nationally, on the State level and with your refusal to include Sheriff’s personnel in the wage program last year, apparently locally also. When you provided a $1 across-the-board raise to the E.M.S., 911 and Corrections on Jan. 1, 2020, something that was greatly needed, I requested that the Sheriff’s Office personnel be included. Council President Jay Newcomb’s response that nothing would be considered for the Sheriff’s Office until deputies started leaving for better pay, quite frankly stunned me. I can’t believe someone in his capacity would rather lose highly trained and experienced employees rather than pay them a competing salary. The Sheriff’s Office employees are already greatly underpaid when you compare them to other agencies. I know the response if going to be we don’t have the money, but when you consider that it costs close to $100,000 to hire, equip and train a deputy, the raise is pennies on the dollar. On July 1, 2020 you again granted a $1, across-the-board raise to E.M.S., 911 and Corrections and again excluded the Sheriff’s Office. The employees are dedicated to their job and have been performing under incredibly difficult circumstances over the last year and your actions have totally destroyed the morale of the agency. With everything going on around us that we can’t control, pertaining to the attack on police, you should take action on what you can control and pay the Sheriff’s employees what they deserve. The last time the Sheriff’s Office received any type of pay scale adjustment was 2004.

I want to make it clear that I totally agree with the increase for E.M.S., 911 and Corrections, they deserve those raises and more, but so do the employees of the Sheriff’s Office. Respectfully, Sheriff James. W. Phillips Jr. Cambridge