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Tyler Sheriff Seeks Pay Increase for Deputies

By Staff | Oct 21, 2015

Tyler County Sheriff’s Department wants more money to pay its deputies.

Last week at the Tyler County Commission, Sergeant Shannon Huffman said the sheriff’s department is having difficulty filling deputy vacancies because the pay is less than what neighboring counties offer its law enforcement officers.

“It is hard to replace good officers with good candidates that are needed to fill these open positions due to the salary difference between what our department pays and the higher salaries that other law enforcement agencies nearby offer,” said Huffman during the Commission’s Oct. 13 meeting.

Huffman presented commissioners with a generalized step chart that seeks a salary increases. His proposal requests an additional $30,000 from the commission to provide pay increases.

Commissioner Charles Smith said he had no problem with raising deputies’ salaries, but he wanted more information about the price tag among other associated costs before making a final decision. Commissioners decided to table the matter for further study until the November meeting.

Citing U.S. Department of Labor statistics, Huffman said Tyler County deputies earn an annual base salary of $33,966 while deputies statewide have an average base salary of $36,080. He said nationwide, the average salary for sheriff’s deputies is nearly $46,000.

Huffman said if salaries are not competitive, then it will become harder for the sheriff’s department to attract applicants from other law enforcement agencies. Local job seekers may be more attracted to higher paying oil and natural gas industry jobs, he said.

Huffman said only two people have applied for job vacancies within the department, though there might be more if the pay was better. Of those applicants, only one had any law enforcement experience and neither was certified to do police work within the state.

Because of the vacancies, Huffman said, the sheriff’s department finds it challenging to keep two deputies on the road 24/7 so as to protect not only the public, but to better provide for deputies’ safety.

Huffman said when he recently stopped a motorist during a seemingly routine traffic stop on Route 180, he discovered the man was a convicted felon in four states. He said the man had several types of illegal drugs with him when he was arrested.

To make matters worse, Huffman said, he was working alone when he conducted the traffic stop. Huffman said the man’s girlfriend told him that he was lucky that her boyfriend did not attack him with a gun during their encounter.

Huffman said his point in telling the story was that the sheriff’s department is short staffed because of low salaries.

Losing other deputies to better paying jobs in the region could be detrimental to public safety.

“If we lose people, we may not be able to draw more people into apply for these jobs,” Huffman said.