Would you believe that in Texas, a state that is reported to be leading the nation with the very best economy in an era of rising food costs, high gasoline prices, escalating utility rates, and many other necessities of daily living, would find an increasing number of Liberty County Sheriff’s Deputies qualifying for food stamps under the Lone Star card program due to low pay? Well, today one more deputy was added to that growing list.
Sheriff Bobby Rader said he submitted a request to Commissioners Court last year that resulted in a 3.43 percent pay raise for deputies. However, he said with the salary range already being far behind the average for surrounding agencies due to no earlier increases for the past several years, this increase hardly made a dent in the low pay scale.
Presently, deputies start out with an annual gross pay rate of $36,800 per year. After taxes, increasing insurance rates, retirement and other deductions, the “take home” pay averages around $28,000 to $29,000 annually. In addition, a “new hire” deputy coming into the Sheriff’s Department straight out of a certified Police Academy and with no experience, starts out making the same salary as a Deputy with 20 years longevity with the department.
To try and address this antiquated type system of salary differences, Sheriff Rader said, as of last year, he has again requested Commissioners Court a “Step Pay” system that allows for a reasonable and equitable separation of salary between rank and longevity. Thus far, the sheriff says he has not received a definitive answer from Commissioners Court on his proposal.
Many, if not most, law enforcement agencies have such salary ranges. The Chambers County Sheriff’s Department, for example, starts their Deputies at $40,462 which later can “step up” to $56,360. Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department starts their Deputies out at $42,500 and steps up to $59,735. The Liberty Police Department has a similar salary system that starts out over $37,000 and ranges to over $52,000.
So, with such a low pay scale as the Liberty County deputies must endure, one may ask why more deputies don’t go on food stamps, as they could easily qualify. Perhaps there are two primary reasons. One is many of the deputies work two to three side jobs to supplement their family income. Secondly, is that some deputies do not wish to be embarrassed by asking for such assistance, but that number is becoming less and less as more find they have no other option in order to support their families.
All of this is coupled with the fact that Liberty County’s population is growing by leaps and bounds and “calls for service” so far this year have already doubled the total amount of calls for 2013. Your deputies are trying desperately to do more with less and many times there are only three or four on duty to cover the entire county leaving no time for preventive community patrol and/or follow up on investigations. Sheriff Rader stresses that to say a critical point is rapidly being reached would be an understatement.
So, this all begs the question: Why do these Deputies, who through these past 18 months have gained more training and education in law enforcement techniques and technology than most larger department have gained and could easily go somewhere else and make a great deal more money, do not? There is only one logical answer- pure loyalty and dedication to their community.
Few professions exist in our society that put the clients’ welfare and needs above their own, but Liberty County citizens can rest assured that your Sheriff’s Deputies do exactly that on a night and day basis, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And, in doing so, one would think these men and women deserve a living wage like their clients enjoy and not have to depend on food stamps to support their families.