Darlington County Sheriff’s Office increases pay to tackle retention problems

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – The Darlington County Sheriff’s Office have struggled to keep deputies. Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office announced a pay increase according to a news release.

A statement from Sheriff Tony Chavis said,

“When I took office, I made deputies a priority again. They risk their lives day in and day out protecting the people of Darlington County, Deputies receiving a living wage was past due. Because I am making them a priority, I have not taken a raise. I worked hard with the County Administrator to make this happen and I am thankful for County Council’s approval.”

Lt. Robert Kilgo, Darlington County public information officer explained when Sheriff Chavis took office in January the office was short more than 20 deputies, now the department has less than 10 vacancies. “With each new pay period, new people are starting. We are doing a lot better. All our shifts are being covered,” said Kilgo.

Deputies up to Corporal will get a 3.8-percent pay increase. Kilgo said deputies haven’t had a pay increase, other than a cost-of-living increase, since 2009.

Darlington County Administrator Charles Stewart says within the 2013-2014 budget 20 out of 76 positions at the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office received a 2% raise for the cost of living.

During the same budget year, Sheriff Wayne Byrd who was in office at the time, created a “salary restructuring pay plan.” Under the plan, 56 positions received a 2% -11% raise.

Starting July 1st deputies will start out making $30,805, nearly $1,800 dollars more than they make now.

“These deputies deserve a livable wage. They risk their lives every day for the people of Darlington County,” explained Kilgo.

In the past, the sheriff’s office will train deputies then loose them to higher paying agencies like highway patrol or other counties.

“We’ll train folks then once they are certified. They will leave and go to other agencies that pay more money,” said Kilgo. “Now that we can be competitive with surrounding municipalities and counties, we can retain those folks so we’re not spending a lot of money to train them for them to leave within a few years later.”

Kilgo said they’ll also attract seasoned officers. Investigators up to Chief Deputy will also receive a 1% to 2% raise.

“We’ll be able to attract those folks and put them right on the road instead of going through that training process with these younger deputies,” said Kilgo. “We want to make it desirable to work in Darlington County and the Sheriff’s office here and stay here long-term.”

New deputies are training at the academy in Columbia. Kilgo said Sheriff’s Office looks forward to filling the remaining vacancies.

News13 checked Sheriff Chavis’ salary is $68, 702, records show the sheriff’s salary has not increased.