Virginia Sheriffs’ Association supports Gov. McAuliffe’s budget addressing deputy pay, career development funding

“The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association has placed deputy and staff compensation as its top priority to address the current salary discrepancy that exists in the Commonwealth,” said John W. Jones, Executive Director of the statewide association representing over 8,600 sheriffs and deputies.

Governor McAuliffe unveiled his plan before a meeting of the General Assembly’s joint money committees this morning. The governor’s proposal addresses salary compression issues and career development funding for deputies and sheriff’s office staff while providing a 1.5% bonus in 2017.

“I’m proud to have worked with Governor McAuliffe to ensure we address compression pay and career development funding in the revised budget for our sheriff’s deputies and sheriff’s office staff,” said Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam. “This is one of the highest core priorities of government and is an important step to take in supporting those who keep us safe. As I travel the commonwealth, I am continually amazed by the incredible work of our public safety officers and first responders. They work long hours and put themselves in harm’s way to keep all Virginians safe. I am grateful for their sacrifice, and we must honor this sacrifice by making sure our officers and their families are taken care of.”

Here are the facts about what our sheriffs, deputies and staff face every day:
  • There are 123 sheriff’s offices across the state, and they receive over 2 million calls for service every year. Deputies are dispatched to about 75 percent of those calls.
  • Sheriffs’ offices are the primary law enforcement agencies in 86 counties in Virginia, making over 63,000 part A and part B arrests annually and answering nearly 2 million calls for service.
  • Sheriffs are absorbing additional responsibilities each year with the overwhelming responsibility of mental health transports.
  • Sheriffs serve more than 3 million civil papers to keep the court system moving and provide security to keep Virginia’s courts, judges and users of the judicial system safe.
  • Sheriffs serve as the keepers of all local jails, and many serve as policymakers on regional jail boards and authorities.
  • Sheriffs are addressing the mental health crisis currently in local jails, maintaining the safest environment possible for both staff and local jail inmates.

“The job of a deputy isn’t getting any easier, and the compensation is not reflective of the dangers our deputies face every day,” said Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan, president of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association. “Governor McAuliffe’s proposal will help ensure sheriff’s offices around the Commonwealth attract and retain the best that law enforcement has to offer.”

The starting annual salary of a deputy sheriff is $31,009, or $2,584.08 per month. The qualifying salary of federal assistance is $2,628.00, if the deputy is married and has two dependent children.

“I have been in communication with sheriffs across Virginia on issues related to staff and funding and have worked hard to raise awareness on the work that we need to do,” said State Senator Jill Vogel, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. “It’s a travesty that our local sheriffs have had such stress on resources and people. Fixing it is one of my highest legislative priorities in 2017.”

As a result of lower pay, the turnover of first year deputy sheriffs for all localities (including the localities that supplement) is 21.3% according to the Compensation Board. This leaves many sheriffs’ offices as the de facto training agency for other law enforcement agencies, both local and state. As soon as deputies are hired and trained, they begin the search for a better-paid law enforcement profession.

Later in the day following the governor’s speech, VSA Executive Director John Jones, Lunenburg County Sheriff Arthur Townsend, Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith and Colonial Heights Sheriff Todd Wilson appeared before the General Government Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee and delivered a presentation on the deputy compensation crisis. Jones requested that the senators make every effort to convert the bonus to a base raise and move it forward.

The Compensation Board has issued an analysis of today’s budget document.

The General Assembly will consider Governor McAuliffe’s proposal when it convenes in January.

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