Dorchester County Council Chair Larry Hargett described the numbers as "astronomical" — that's the difference between a Dorchester County deputy's pay and opportunities for raises, and the pay and opportunities for raises for an officer in the same job at a nearby jurisdiction.
Sheriff L.C. Knight pleaded with council Monday during its regular meeting to allow for a budget increase, which would give raises to deputies and hire new deputies.
"Since my four years in office, I haven't had anybody budgeted to me in law enforcement or detention," Knight said. "It's a dual problem ... (An increased budget) will help me recruit them, get them in the door and it will also help me keep them."
During Knight's campaign against a fellow Republican in the primary, he had talked about the constrained budget and desire to increase pay to his deputies. He goes into the general election unopposed.
Knight handed out seven-page report which detailed the lack of raises among deputies and the enticing paying of neighboring law enforcement. He cited losing a deputy to North Charleston Police, who received a $5,000 pay raise for the same job he was doing with the county.
Here are some of the numbers:
- Certified deputies hired at $33,861
- No pay increase for length of service, for step increase after five years of employment, performance evaluation, education completion, or bi-lingual experience
Here are the numbers for nearby jurisdictions Knight reported:
- Charleston Police: starting salary is $38,000, 2 percent pay increase based on training in first two years, and 5 percent pay increase based on certification in first year
- Mount Pleasant: starting, uncertified officers earn $35,958 and pay raises based on annual performance reviews
- North Charleston Police:starting, uncertified officers earn $35,616, pay raises based on annual performance reviews, bonuses offered on length of service, and tuition reimbursement for extra schooling
- Charleston County: starting salary is $33,758 with mid-level patrolman earning $40,227, and salary increases based on performance evaluation and longevity
- Summerville Police: Certified officers start at $31,500, cost of living pay increases each year based on town council approval, police chief has 15 percent to negotiate pay of new hires
- Goose Creek Police: Certified officers start at $31,069 with increases based on experience, time and education; and an annual increase is available between 3-5 percent
- Berkeley County: Certified deputies begin at $31,010.08, which can be increased up to 15 percent for experience and education; the sheriff's office is converting to a five-band system where experience, performance and time on the job are factored in — once approved the starting salary will increase.