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Sheriff responds to editorial on salary freeze

The following letter appeared in the December 14 edition of the Salida Mountain Mail newspaper.


Allow me to respond to the Mail’s editorial urging that once again, for the third year straight, the county commissioners deny salary increases for County employees. 

While we well understand the commissioners’ dilemma and the difficult choices they face, the fact is that we cannot continue to attract and retain quality employees unless we fairly compensate them.  It’s not just that our employees “deserve” a raise.  Rather, it just makes good business sense and is in the best interests of our citizens to provide a stable workforce within our county.  To do that requires that we aggressively recruit the best candidates, ensure they receive top quality training, and provide fair remuneration for their services.

Speaking just for the sheriff’s office, we have over the past few months lost two experienced patrol deputies, several detentions deputies, and one experienced dispatcher almost solely due to their ability to find higher paying positions elsewhere.  Replacing these people is no easy task: we can recruit patrol deputies only from a limited pool of POST-certified candidates and the new hire must then undergo a twelve week field training program before being released for solo duty.  Similarly, detentions deputies and dispatchers must complete weeks of training to obtain various required certifications before becoming fully functional within their respective positions.  This is a costly process.  It is simply good business for management to do everything within reason to retain these valuable workers.

We recognize the fiscal realities facing our county’s residents.  But employee salaries and other issues, notably the communications center and detention facility funding, will not simply disappear.  For these reasons we intend to explore options and to go forward in the coming months with proposals for solutions that we hope will be supported by our community.

Pete Palmer

Chaffee County Sheriff