The cost of law enforcement… Sollie: Deputy raises are a major step'

By Staff
ON THE JOB Sgt. Frankie Springer, a Lauderdale County deputy, takes a call at his car. Employees of the sheriff's department received raises this week from the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Jan. 5, 2001
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie says pay raises awarded earlier this week to deputies are a "major step," but correctional officers' starting salaries are still "less than what we would love to see."
Sollie has been a vocal critic of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, arguing in public budget hearings that his staff is underpaid.
Supervisors approved the raises based on the sheriff's recommendations and a Mississippi State University Stennis Institute study conducted last year.
He said the objective is to "give the officer an incentive to successfully complete the certification process."
Uncertified deputies will earn $20,874; deputies will earn $22,962 once certified.
Salaries for correction officers will start at $15,683, and will be raised once they complete training courses. The current starting salary is $15,371. Sollie said he does not know if MSU officials considered certification when they set their proposed pay rates.
He said Mississippi legislators recently passed a mandatory training process for correctional officers, and as standards are raised, compensation should be raised as well.
Other raises in the sheriff's department range from one-tenth of a percent for an administrative assistant and two-tenths of a percent for a DUI case worker, to 33.9 percent for an investigator. Correctional staff raises range from three-tenths of a percent for a classification officer to 8.3 percent for some correctional officers, and 13.2 percent for an administrative assistant.
Sollie said some of the higher increases were given because the people had recently been promoted, which bumped them into higher pay grades.
Last year, Sollie went head-to-head against supervisors because he said county patrolmen were paid more than deputies and did less. The supervisors' payroll summary shows the lowest salary for a patrolman is now $22,810 $152 lower than a deputy's starting salary.
Sollie said supervisors are "compensating their experienced personnel in what they feel they deserve," but he would not say how he will feel about patrolmen's salaries if their certifications are revoked by the Minimum Standards and Training Board set to review their certifications next week at Sollie's request.
District 2 Supervisor Jimmie Smith said MSU officials based patrolmen's 2 percent to 5.1 percent pay increases on similar positions in the region. Lauderdale County is the only county in Mississippi that employs county patrolmen.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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