SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Sumner County Jail has 42 employee vacancies, according to members of the sheriff salary study subcommittee, and officials believe part of the reason for the critical corrections staffing shortage is due to low pay.
During a Sumner County Sheriff Salary Study Subcommittee meeting, Sgt. Samuel Denny, who works overnights in the Sumner County Jail, explained the dire need for higher pay for corrections officers, which currently starts at $19.97 an hour.
“What I’d like to see this county and our sheriff’s office become is the best that you can choose,” Denny said. “I don’t see as people in our county that work hard everyday to protect their county can look at some warehouse job or this or that as a better option to provide for their family.”
Many Sumner County Jail staff have left the department for higher paying opportunities at other nearby law enforcement agencies, and officials with the sheriff’s office said they’ve seen a similar trend with deputies in the field.
“I’ve had one turn in his two weeks notice to go to Gallatin [Police Department]. They’ve offered him $31 an hour for his experience, which is crazy. He’s already turned in his notice,” Deputy Chief Eric Craddock with the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office said. “I’ve got another one who is wanting to see the outcome of this [proposal]. They offered him $29 an hour.”
Members of the Sumner County Sheriff Salary Study Subcommittee compiled other surrounding law enforcement agencies’ pay and compared it to what Sumner County offers to create a new competitive pay scale proposal for employees, which would be funded through a state grant.
If approved, starting pay for a corrections officer would jump from $19.97 an hour to $23.50. Committee members also discussed offering more pay for experience because the sheriff’s office currently does not have a step pay scale.
“I’m not here for the money or this or that. If I wanted a high paying job, I’d look somewhere else, but that’s the part I believe needs to change,” Denny said. “As a culture in this county, we need to back our people and need to give them the opportunities of growth to be able to provide for their families and not have to look for somewhere else.”
The proposed pay scale will go up for a vote during Monday’s Sumner County Commission meeting.