HD42 - Non-sworn Personnel in Sheriffs' Offices

Executive Summary:
Non-sworn law enforcement personnel in the Commonwealth's sheriffs' offices provide a vital, yet little noticed, service to our citizens. By providing their specialized talents and expertise, they make the operation of sheriffs' offices possible. They allow for deputies to be in positions requiring sworn status by providing their services, generally at a lower cost. House Joint Resolution 254 was introduced by Delegate James Almand at the request of the Virginia Sheriff's Association representing the Commonwealth's Sheriffs.

Since 1990, non-sworn law enforcement personnel in the states sheriff's offices have received five cost of living adjustments. In 1994, sheriffs' offices which had pay-for-performance programs in place, did receive a salary increase for civilians in their agencies. This increase was 3.57% for approximately 50% of the sheriffs' offices that qualified. The other 50% of the sheriffs' offices received a 2.25% cost of living adjustment (COLA). For the period 1990 through 1996, increases in salaries and COLA's has lagged the cumulative Consumer Price Index by 4.32% to as much as 5.85%. This represents a loss of spendable income during the period.

A comparison of Compensation Board funded non-sworn positions in the Sheriffs' offices against comparable state government positions shows that with the exception of cooks and classification officers, the sheriff's office positions lag behind their counterparts in state government by 2.4% to 4.4%, with the exception of dispatchers. The lowest entry level sheriff's dispatcher salary was behind the State Police dispatcher lowest entry level salary by $2,301 or 12.9%. These positions perform virtually identical jobs.

In approximately 55.6% of the responding sheriff's offices, non-sworn personnel salaries are supplemented by local government. This helps to keep those positions on a comparable level with similar positions within the jurisdiction and keep the jurisdiction as a competitive employer. Approximately 23.1% of the responding jurisdictions fully fund additional FTE's over the Compensation Board level.

Recommendation: Consideration should be given to increasing funding levels of the Compensation Board to effect raises for dispatchers and dispatch supervisors in sheriffs' offices to address discrepancies between the sheriffs' office dispatchers and similar positions in state government.