Incentive adopted for certified officers

A budget decision was made this week at the Barbour County Commission meeting that could provide incentive for newly certified deputies to stay with the Sheriff’s Department instead of seeking a law enforcement job elsewhere.

Barbour County pays for the newly hired deputies to go through the certification process, if they are not already certified when they are hired. The cost of certification runs about $10,000 because it includes the academy training, wages, specially required uniforms and travel expenses.

Commissioner Phil Hart said that once an officer is certified, other police agencies would offer them up a signing bonus up to $7,500 in addition to a higher salary to come to work for that department. Deputies often would take those offers with other agencies.

“We just hope that it will give them an incentive, once they get their certification, to stay in Barbour County, and not just use us as a certification ground or stepping stone to move on,” Hart said.

To avoid the merry-go-round of constantly training new deputies as certified ones leave, a new incentive program was adopted to reward the deputies who remain with the Barbour County Sheriff’s Department.

“The money is out there anyway,” Hart said. “We’re just losing that money when we certify somebody and they go somewhere else to work.”

The Barbour County Commission will offer a $3,000 pay raise to deputies after they become certified. That stipend can grow with years of service to the county. After four years of service, deputies will receive a longevity increase of $3,000, in addition to any cost-of-living increases given by the county during that time period, Hart said. The amount also will increase with continued service.

When a deputy reaches six years of service, the amount will jump to $3,500. Eight years of service will be rewarded with $4,000, and 10 or more years of the same will be rewarded with a maximum of $5,000 annually.

Barbour County employs eight deputies, only one of which has more than 10 years of service and two having less than four years of service. Commissioners estimated the plan will cost the county about $40,000 annually.

County Administrator Chuck Foley said the change will take effect either this coming pay period or will be made retroactive to March 1.