Sheriff’s deputies’ pay lags behind other departments

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The pay for Dubois County Sheriff’s Department deputies lags behind many of their area law enforcement counterparts; however, county officials say the county cannot afford to raise their pay to a more comparable level.

Sheriff Donny Lampert gave the county two 2018 budget proposals in June. One incorporates the 40-cent-per-hour pay increase the Dubois County Council has decided to give all county employees. The second has wages for the department at the level Lampert said they should be based on the research he has done.

The increase designated by the council will raise deputies’ pay to $46,072. (Those in supervisory positions, like sergeants, are paid a little more.) The level deputies should be at, according to the second budget proposal submitted by Lampert, is $49,308.

Currently, deputies make $45,240.

“If the county can’t afford it, that’s OK,” Lampert said. “But acknowledge it and build toward that.”

County council President Jerry Hunefeld said the county’s law enforcement should be paid more.

“Unfortunately our law enforcement people are not being paid what they deserve,” he said, “especially considering the kind of threat they face every day. When you and I go to work, we’re pretty much safe. When they go to work, they don’t know what’s going to happen. Even routing traffic stops are iffy.”

The county council will go through all county budgets during its daylong budget meeting on Monday.

“I completely agree with him,” Hunefeld said. “But we simply have limited funds. That is what we’re faced with.”

Lampert researched the 2017 salaries of other law enforcement within Dubois County after looking at the pay comparisons collected in a recent wage study done for the county. The study compared Dubois County wages to similar-sized counties in Indiana.

“No one is really complaining,” he said. “But if you’re going to do a wage study, do a study that conforms with the area. If you’re going to make comparisons based on the jobs they do and set up classifications, you should go the extra mile and see what you other local law enforcement agencies make.”

He said such a comparison is needed because it looks at the cost of living in the area as well as the actual population set of the county. “These agencies are dealing with the same type of people we are dealing with,” Lampert said, “the same type of calls.”

What Lampert found was that the pay at the sheriff’s department is less than some of the other local agencies.

Jasper’s police chief makes $67,549. The detective sergeant’s base pay is $55,950 and detective is $53,360. A probationary police officer starts at $45,649 and gets gradual increases until he achieves regular police status in two years; his pay then starts at $53,360.

In Huntingburg, the lowest scale of the pay range dictates the police chief receives at least $57,221 per year and the assistant chief $53,609. The detective sergeant gets 48,298 and a police officer $45,614; these are based on 40-hour work weeks.

The Ferdinand police chief receives $51,015 per year, the assistant chief $43,344, the sergeant $39,332 and the highest paid patrolman $33,768.

A five-year Indiana State Police trooper makes $45,747 per year; a six-year trooper makes $46,765.

“I have guys who have been here 20 years making less than that,” Lampert said.

“Our supervisors are making less,” Lampert added, “and they have a lot more responsibility.”

A 15-year trooper makes $55,843 and a 20-year trooper $61,208.

Dubois County’s chief deputy makes $47,476. The chief deputy is equivalent to the chief of police, Lampert said, because the sheriff is an elected official.

Lampert gave the council and Dubois County Commissioners the two 2018 budget proposals — one that has wages at the level they should be, and one that incorporates the 40-cent increase. Hunefeld said that he received the information.

“This year we have put in a 40-cent raise for everybody, including the sheriff’s department. I understand that is not enough. But our funds are limited,” Hunefeld said. “I agree that they are worth more than they are being paid. But the bottom line is that we have to be careful with the limited funds we have.”

Lampert wants them to keep the budget that shows were wages should be, even if that isn’t used right now.

“I understand that you can’t be there now,” he said. “But hang on to this so that you know where you should be, where you should have been.”

 




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