The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion on Dec. 11 to increase the salaries of Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputies who have stayed with the department for two years or more.
The Board approved the creation of a new career track classification — Deputy Sheriff II — for sworn deputies with at least two years’ experience and certification in four specific classes. The classification comes with a 10 percent increase in salaries. The entry-level position of Deputy Sheriff I will remain at the same pay rate.
The full cost impact of the pay increase would be approximately $2.8 million. The primary funding for the pay increase would come from Proposition 172 — Public Safety Sales Tax Revenue. County staff said the costs from the current year would be mitigated by revenue from contract cities and department salary savings.
The Board also approved a $2,500 moving allowance for deputies willing to relocate and join the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, and $1,000 for sheriff’s department employees who refer a candidate that is hired as a deputy and passes the probationary period.
Staffing levels have fluctuated greatly as the sheriff’s department, largely due to the Great Recession. In 2007, the department had 214 sworn deputies, but four years later, in 2011, the number had fallen to 142. More recently turnovers have come from resignations, retirements and being released from the probationary training. In the past five years there have been 172 individuals hired as deputies or promoted, with the average cost of training a new deputy at $85,000, according to County staff.
The struggle to retain deputies has been exasperated by higher salaries available at other law enforcement agencies, particularly those in the Bay Area.
“When you get portable deputies and they can drive 30 to 40 minutes or maybe an hour to the west and they can make $35,000 more, it’s a challenge to keep and retain them,” Sheriff-elect Jeff Dirkse told the Board.
The 2018-19 budget allocated for 180 positions for sworn deputies and currently has 16 of those vacant.
The raise would take effect in January and Dirkse expects the benefits to staffing levels will be quick.
“We expect to retain a lot more deputies,” Dirkse said. “As we talked to the deputies there were some that were considering leaving and many of those have put the brakes on that.”