East Tenn. sheriffs need one thing to recruit and keep staff

Money is the obvious solution to keeping staff at East Tennessee law enforcement agencies.
Recruiting or Retaining Officers
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 6:34 PM EDT
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JACKSBORO, Tenn. (WVLT) - Money was the obvious solution to keeping staff at East Tennessee law enforcement agencies.

The Sevier County Sheriff and Campbell County Sheriff know competitive salaries keep staff employed.

Sevier Co. Sheriff Michael Hodges said a salary survey caused all Sevier Co. employees to get a raise beginning July 1.

“We have a very competitive salary here at Sevier County,” Hodges said.

Hodges explained officers with a high school diploma and no law enforcement experience start out earning $48,200.

“Now we’re having a lot fewer exit interviews as you can probably imagine,” explained Hodges. “The salaries have encouraged retention and it’s allowed us to market ourselves a little bit better.”

He noticed that officers have been happier and overall have a higher morale.

The Campbell Co. Sheriff, Wayne Barton, felt his office was lagging behind.

“Pay is not measuring up to what the other agencies around us are. So we are discussing different options on how we can get that pay up,” Barton said in an interview in his office.

He’s been on the job just over a month, but hired nearly a dozen officers in corrections, patrol and school resource.

As of this week, he’s filled his patrol positions, but still needs corrections officers.

Right now, his officers who are high school graduates with no experience in law enforcement earn around $34,000 a year.

“I think it would be a big relief for officers. The deputies that we have they want to work here. But they also need to be able to provide for their families. Insurance is going up every year so that comes out of that money as well,” Barton explained.

Barton said he wanted the hourly rate to go up $1.00 or $1.50 to help keep his employees. Some are working second jobs and pick up overtime shifts. But he hoped to provide a positive work environment.

He planned to talk about salary increases with Campbell County Commission and Mayor’s Office soon to make sure it’s a part of the 2023 budget.