The residents of Douglas County have shown, and continue to show, their appreciation and support for deputies of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. The deputies serving you love this community. This relationship keeps our community safer, especially with the leadership of Sheriff Coverley. The sworn personnel of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office want to say thank you for your support. The membership of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Association stand in unity with, and fully support, Sheriff Coverley. This community would not be as safe without him at the helm of DCSO.
Our sworn members have received tremendous public support regarding our position in the contract negotiations with Douglas County Management. It is important to understand that Sheriff Coverley does not have the authority to change our pay and benefits. Only Douglas County Management and the Board of County Commissioners can increase our pay and benefits.
Recently, The Record-Courier published a statement by county management stating DCSPA rejected a 9 percent pay increase. This is true and was done with good reason. The county only offered a 9 percent increase to our pay, which did not close the pay and benefit gap with local competitive law enforcement agencies. Currently, the disparity between what a DCSO deputy is paid is approximately 20-40- percent less than what other law enforcement agencies provide their sworn personnel. Douglas County’s current offer will not solve DCSO’s recruitment and retention issues. We asked the county to provide our membership with the budgeted 9 percent increase that all other county employees received, so we could negotiate a new contract with that benefit already in place. Douglas County’s negotiating team and management rejected our request.
Thus far, the county has only offered an increase in our pay and benefits package that will keep us well below the average of competitive law enforcement agencies. Douglas County continues to lose quality personnel to these agencies, at a high cost to the county. Please refer to the attached graph containing the comparable average, DCSPA proposal, and the county’s proposal. The graph clearly shows how inadequate Douglas County’s offer really is.
The county is refusing to provide retroactive pay for the budgeted 9 percent increase in pay. The county is currently refusing to provide performance evaluation-based pay raises to your deputies since July 1, 2022. Your deputies will not get any increase in pay and benefits until a new contract is signed. In our latest Fact-Finding meeting on Nov. 11, Douglas County Human Resources Director Wendy Lang indicated the county will not provide annual performance evaluation pay raises, because this action is intended to incentivize us to sign a new contract. Douglas County’s efforts to strong-arm your deputies into signing their proposal, by punishing us financially, will not be successful. In fact, Douglas County’s management and county commissioners can and should demonstrate their alleged support. They can do this by immediately providing DCSPA members their pay raises, and any increases they would have earned retroactively. The efforts to damage our members financially has shown County Management and BOCC do not support us as much as they portray to the community.
The association is unwilling to agree on the county’s proposed contract as it is not comparable to the agencies we are losing our deputies to. Since our last contract in 2017, 46 of your sworn deputies have left DCSO. Eleven deputies elected to retire, 20 deputies to other higher paying agencies, 11 deputies were released not meeting performance requirements while on probation, and four more left law enforcement in the middle of their career. Twenty-four of those deputies left DCSO since 2021. We anticipate losing more valued deputies in the near future who are currently in the pre-employment process with higher paying local law enforcement agencies.
The deputies who have left voluntarily stated their primary reason for leaving is because of inadequate pay and benefits. After being trained here, they have left and immediately made anywhere from $4 to $10 more an hour at other agencies. The deputies who have been released due to an inability to successfully complete probation, exemplifies the difficulty in recruiting qualified candidates, due to inadequate pay and benefits. Sheriff Coverley has clearly stated this community needs to recruit qualified candidates and needs to retain its experienced deputies to maintain a safe community.
Since the association and Douglas County are unable to agree on the terms of a contract, Douglas County has hired the law firm Fisher Phillips to represent them in fact finding and arbitration. This firm is being paid with your taxpayer dollars. Douglas County has spent over $50,000 thus far. It is estimated the county will spend over $100,000 disputing this contract with your deputies.
Douglas County is currently underfunding, which is no different than defunding your deputies, with inadequate pay and benefits and their proposal will continue to do so. Please support us and Sheriff Coverley by voicing your opinions with county management. It is essential to recruit and retain qualified deputies that want to remain and serve this community. Your deputies can only hope at some point Douglas County’s Management and commissioners will agree to the association’s reasonable proposal, to avoid spending taxpayer dollars in a protracted and costly fact finding and arbitration process.
Deputy Justin Fricke is president of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Association.
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