Are deputies in St. Mary's really underpaid?

David

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The latest "we need more of your money" issue surrounds police in St. Mary's county. The Sheriff argues that he is losing staff on an ongoing basis to Charles County because they pay more --- even though deputies just received an increase of almost 10% 3 years ago and earn a lot of over time. Of course tax payers say, when is this going to end?

Guy Leonard reports:

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Dec. 12, 2019)—In a split vote the Commissioners of St. Mary's County voted against aligning the salary schedule for sheriff's office deputies with that of their counterparts in Charles County and the Maryland State Police.
Those who voted against the measure, Commissioner President James "Randy" Guy, Commissioners Mike Hewitt and Todd Morgan all expressed their support for paying deputies more, but said they wanted to have more up to date budget numbers in the coming weeks before making a decision.
Recent budget projections show that the county will have to make up a $3 million deficit.
But Commissioners Eric Colvin and John O'Connor, who made an impassioned plea for the salary increase and got in a heated discussion over the issue with Hewitt, said the county was wasting money each year by losing deputies to other agencies with better pay and having to constantly pay to train new ones.
"We all know why we're here," said Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron. "It's about attrition… the question is can you afford not to [match the pay scale]
"If we don't do something, we're going to lose tenured employees to Charles County."
Deputies got a nearly 10 percent increase in pay three years ago, but they continue to go to agencies which pay more.
Budget projections from the sheriff's office showed that the pay scale proposal would have cost an additional $1.3 million in fiscal 2020 and a recurring cost increase of $4.1 million for fiscal 2021.
O'Connor said the county had spent an extra $24 million over the past several years above maintenance of effort for the county school system while the sheriff's office had returned millions of dollars because it could not fill vacancies.
He said there had been recent discussions with the Fraternal Order of Police and the county about the new structure for pay and others who now wanted more information could have attended.
"To say there is not enough information, that's a choice," O'Connor said. "The money is there, it's called saying no to someone else.
"We have the money, everything else is an excuse."
He chided Hewitt for initially wanting to abstain from the vote and later in the debate claimed Hewitt was taking "the coward's way out" for wanting to abstain though he said he supported the idea of a raise for deputies.
"Why do you have to make it personal," Hewitt retorted, soon after voting no in a roll call vote.
At the start of the debate Hewitt said to Cameron: "I want to give you an increase in pay… but can we afford to?" Hewitt later said: "We need to get the total picture of how much it will cost."
"We are wasting taxpayer money each year through having to retrain people," Colvin said.
O'Connor said he would support a tax increase in 2022 if it were necessary to pay for salary increases for deputies.
"We can't do this anymore," O'Connor said of not boosting deputy pay.
The hearing room was filled with members of the FOP waiting for the vote; one woman called out: "Shame, shame, shame on you," after the proposal was rejected.

Vernon Gray, in a letter to the Enterprise newspapers clarifies some of the issues:

An analysis of the FY2018 sheriff’s overtime report as of June 13, 2018, provides the following information. Average salaries including overtime: deputy $55,246; deputy first class $74,221; corporal $91,843; sergeant $101,852; lieutenant $110,891; captain $121,014. Not included here is the cost of benefits, approximately 38% more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Gray also speculates as to overly outspoken Commissioner John O’Connor's motivation:

County Commissioner John O’Connor (R) appears to suffer from an identity conflict. He seems to think and act as if he is a self-appointed “police commissioner.”

He previously sponsored legislation to unionize the sheriff’s office, and, failing in that, next attempted to enact code home rule to accomplish the same goal. He proposed a $2,500 property tax credit for deputies. More recently, he led the effort to expand a pay study to include the Prince George’s County Police and the MSP, rather than the standard comparisons with only Calvert and Charles counties, for the predetermined outcome of demanding parity with the MSP.

O’Connor declared that he would support a tax increase, even “if that means I don’t get reelected in 2022, I don’t care.”

Why not threaten to resign? His statement is simply bluster in that he is expected by some to instead seek election as sheriff in 2022, a job for which he has been posturing politically since 2014.

Then a Jason McCoy who identifies himself as a former Sergeant/SMCSO #206 writes to the SMNN with this:

The following comments are addressed very specifically to St. Mary’s County Commissioners Hewitt, Guy, and Morgan. From 2006 to 2016 I was a Deputy Sheriff with the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office. I held assignments in Patrol, Investigations, and Special Operations as well as a number of collateral duties. I often worked in excess of 12 to 14 hours days, frequently 6 days a week, many times for months on end. I don’t share this because I feel my service was exception, quite the contrary, at SMCSO, it was common place. When I left the agency, I was a Sergeant and number one on the list to make Lieutenant. I was not unsuccessful. Law enforcement was not a tourist stop for me: it was a career, it was a way of life, and it was a family.

I didn’t leave the agency because I wasn’t being paid enough. I left because I was tired. I was tired in my very bones. I was tired of seeing my children once or twice a week. I was tired of doing more with fewer and fewer people. Most importantly, I was tired of looking the selfless men and women I was supervising in the face and telling them “hang in there, things will get better,” when I saw no evidence that was the case. Since I have left the agency, I understand Sheriff Cameron has made great strides toward improving its culture.

Regardless, it has continued to hemorrhage employees at an alarming rate. The people leaving are not the deadwood of the agency; they are talented, hardworking, and dedicated, both sworn and non-sworn. They are the agencies lifeblood and future. Many of them are leaving for agencies (such as Charles County) that offer them better pay, benefits, and working conditions. A few days ago, you gentlemen had an opportunity to start correcting this trend and you demurred. You claimed to “not have enough information” when in reality you have remained willfully blind in hopes of appearing favorable to everyone. This is not the time for more handshakes and hollow words, it isn’t the time for politics as usual. This is the time to take action for the benefit and security of your constituents. If you fail to do so, I strenuously urge them all to speak their disapproval with their votes in the next election cycle.
The one thing I rarely see discussed is that maybe the SMCSO needs to downsize some of its other spending and efforts and focus on what is really important. The busybodies in the community might also want to stop calling the police every time they want to get in someone else's business because they're bored with their own life. A family member of mine is in law enforcement and he says he spends a lot of time responding to these types of calls which should have never been called in the first place.
 
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PeoplesElbow

Well-Known Member
If they could do something about the hookers, pan handlers, and crackheads as well as the "death race 2000" on RT 235 then maybe people would care beyond their wallets.

What sort of busy body in other peoples business are we talking here?
 

vraiblonde

Board Mommy
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The one thing I rarely see discussed is that maybe the SMCSO needs to downsize some of its other spending and efforts and focus on what is really important.
Like what?

It's pretty simple: either match the Charles County pay/hours, or see a reduction in the veteran police force. Why would any cop work in SMC when they can get a better deal right up the road?

Being a cop sucks, especially when they're not getting support from the local government. Either make it worth their while or learn to do without. Then SMC can be like the big city where you can call 911 all day long and nobody will respond to your emergency because there's no one to respond. Or maybe go with a volunteer police force - wouldn't that be fun?
 

PeoplesElbow

Well-Known Member
Like what?

It's pretty simple: either match the Charles County pay/hours, or see a reduction in the veteran police force. Why would any cop work in SMC when they can get a better deal right up the road?
I would say there is less risk of life in St Marys County.
 

vraiblonde

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If they can only do one then do one of them, doing neither shouldn't be an option.
I'm not sure I understand that post.

Anyway, people always want to bitch about cops and the military - "Oh, they're overpaid! Oh, they get all these perks! Oh, they're thugs who think they can get away with anything!" Usually the bitchers would never dream of joining the military or becoming a cop because it's not lucrative or glamorous, yet they think they should get top notch talent in these fields on the cheap.

But I already had a big rant about this topic this morning, so I'm tapped out. Carry on....
 

PeoplesElbow

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure I understand that post.

Anyway, people always want to bitch about cops and the military - "Oh, they're overpaid! Oh, they get all these perks! Oh, they're thugs who think they can get away with anything!" Usually the bitchers would never dream of joining the military or becoming a cop because it's not lucrative or glamorous, yet they think they should get top notch talent in these fields on the cheap.

But I already had a big rant about this topic this morning, so I'm tapped out. Carry on....
It means, as far as I can tell, they do nothing about either.

Actually let me rephrase that, if they do something about either, whatever they do is ineffective.
 

GURPS

INGSOC
PREMO Member
It's pretty simple: either match the Charles County pay/hours, or see a reduction in the veteran police force.
IMHO Somewhere else always pays the same more for less hours .......

12 - 14 hr days 6 days sounds extremely dangerous fatigue and impaired judgement sets in
 

vraiblonde

Board Mommy
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It means, as far as I can tell, they do nothing about either.

Actually let me rephrase that, if they do something about either, whatever they do is ineffective.
Why do you say that? I think the cops do their part just fine, it's the catch and release program that's the problem.

Elect me dictator - I'll fix that crime problem right up and take care of the people who can't drive worth a chit while I'm at it. :)
 

vraiblonde

Board Mommy
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12 - 14 hr days 6 days sounds extremely dangerous fatigue and impaired judgement sets in
I agree. Clearly more cops are needed to fill those hours, which means the incentive needs to be attractive enough to get good applicants to fill the positions.
 

David

Opinions are my own...
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I can tell you I wouldn't want to do that ####### job, especially for that pay scale.
Really? deputy $55,246; deputy first class $74,221

Seems like damned good pay, considering the bennies and the fact that it is essentially minimally skilled labor.
 

Kyle

Just being a fly in the ointment...
PREMO Member
Really? deputy $55,246; deputy first class $74,221

Seems like damned good pay, considering the bennies and the fact that it is essentially minimally skilled labor.
Yeah. Really.

Spending your day dealing with irate piss poor drivers, civil disturbances, thieves, thugs, junkies, pushers, prostitutes... Day in, day out? Yeah. I certainly wouldn't want my day filled with contstant interaction with the low-lifes of society.
 

PeoplesElbow

Well-Known Member
Yeah. Really.

Spending your day dealing with irate piss poor drivers, civil disturbances, thieves, thugs, junkies, pushers, prostitutes... Day in, day out? Yeah. I certainly wouldn't want my day filled with contstant interaction with the low-lifes of society.
I find this argument like the "teachers are underpaid" argument, I believe everyone that becomes a cop knows that they will be doing this ahead of time, its no secret.

I'd say $55k is pretty good starting pay.
 
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vraiblonde

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I find this argument like the "teachers are underpaid" argument, I believe everyone that becomes a cop knows that they will be doing this ahead of time, its no secret.

I'd say $55k is pretty good starting pay.
I think we should bump them all down to $12k/yr. That way only the truly dedicated will become public servants and it'll weed out anyone who's just pursuing those careers for a (ack ptooey) paycheck.

Who's with me?

:thewave:
 

officeguy

Well-Known Member
Really? deputy $55,246; deputy first class $74,221

Seems like damned good pay, considering the bennies and the fact that it is essentially minimally skilled labor.
That's base salary. Before OT and shift differentials.

Anyone who thinks working as a Chuck Co deputy is 'rhe same' hasn't been to Waldorf in a while.
 

General Lee

Well-Known Member
The debate shouldn’t just be about the pay. The public would be outraged if they knew just how few cops are on the street. Yes manpower is a reason for some of that. St. Mary’s has been stuck in 1982 and just can’t get the manpower issue resolved.
 

mdff21

Active Member
Really? deputy $55,246; deputy first class $74,221

Seems like damned good pay, considering the bennies and the fact that it is essentially minimally skilled labor.
Contact the Sheriff and ask if you can spend a week at the academy (deputies spend 6 months) and then do a ride-along on a weekend evening and night. Put your butt on the front line and experience what they go through on a daily basis.
 
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