OPINION: County council needs to cut out the fat and raise pay for deputies


I am still amazed that our sheriff has to continue to beg for a pay increase for his deputies. I worked 32 years as a law enforcement officer and retired over seven years ago. The begging back in my career went on, and it's unreal that the need still hasn't been met.

I often heard reasons, such as, "The money is not there," or "We would have to raise everybody else's salary." Folks, let's be honest, these are not valid reasons not to pay our law enforcement officers what they deserve to be paid; these are merely poor excuses.

I even heard the excuse when I asked about it, that we would have to give someone who cuts the grass a big raise if we give law enforcement one. Personally, I feel that it does a disservice to our law enforcement officers to compare other county or city jobs with the job that they do every day.

The demands on a law enforcement officer are much greater today than at any other time we have ever faced. It has even changed drastically since I retired. The chances of an officer getting killed are at an all-time high. The demand that an officer be perfect is at an all-time high. It was quoted in the Item that it would take a million dollars for the raises.

My first thought was cut back on unnecessary spending and pay these officers. You cannot put a price on protecting our community. When you want to compare law enforcement officers with someone cutting grass, please remember, a lawn mower doesn't curse you, spit on you, lie about you or, most importantly, try to shoot you.

Please, county councilmen, tell your administrator to cut the fat out, and give these officers the raises they need and most definitely deserve. You say you support law enforcement, but you don't upgrade their pay. So, do you really support law enforcement? As of now I will say an astonished NO. The city council does a better job of supporting the city officers than the county does.

It's a disgrace that so many deputies will work a 12-hour shift and then not go home because they have to go to a part-time job to make ends meet.

You as councilmen claim you support our law enforcement officers, but when it comes to pay raises, you continue to show you don't do what you claim. In order to have a strong community, you must have strong law enforcement, and that includes good salaries.

When you keep denying the sheriff a good raise for his deputies, you are not looking out for the best interest of the Sumter community as a whole.

I personally am of the opinion that when new elections roll around, we need to make a statement and vote in council members that will make sure that the men and women who protect this community are paid appropriately for their service.

Enough is enough. As a retired officer, I know the sacrifice that these men and women and their families make in order to serve and protect the people of Sumter, and I am not going to sit back quietly and watch our sheriff fight for them alone.