I am president of the Douglas County Employees Association and write this letter at the direction of its Executive Board. DCEA proudly represents 165 County Employees ranging from 911 Dispatchers to Road Maintenance Operators to Librarians. Like our sheriff’s deputies and sergeants, many of the employees we represent live here in the County and share a strong sense of community with those we serve. DCEA fully and vigorously supports the efforts of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Association (“DCSPA”) and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Protective Association - Sergeants Bargaining Unit (“SBU”) to obtain a fair wage for their incredibly important work. We constantly interact with these individuals who have sworn to protect us, and we see the professionalism, sacrifice, and compassion demonstrated by each and every one of these professionals on a daily basis.
It is deeply troubling that the County, or its negotiating team, is either not negotiating in good faith or unaware of the critical nature of the duties performed by DCSPA and SBU, and thus unwilling to compensate them appropriately. DCSPA and SBU members have been shot, physically assaulted, repeatedly exposed to COVID-19 and other contagious diseases and exposed to dangerous and highly toxic illegal drugs and drug labs (recent exposures to Fentanyl have sent at least five deputies to the hospital for treatment). Yet, DCSPA and SBU continue to do this work, day in and day out without hesitation, putting themselves at risk to protect the residents of Douglas County.
While it may be true that “it’s all part of the job,” that does not change the simple, fair fact that they are entitled to at least a competitive wage while doing that vital job. There are good people here in the County, but there are also good people in Carson City, Reno, Sparks and Washoe County also deserving of protection. So ask yourself: Why a deputy who has sacrificed and worked for the County for 25 years is making only $1 per hour more than a rookie Carson City Deputy with only 18 months of experience? Why would that deputy not take his or her dedication and skill to Carson City, Reno, Sparks or Washoe County for better pay? Does it make sense for County taxpayers to fund a training “boot camp-revolving door” that our deputies graduate from and then exit to take better paying jobs in neighboring communities? Why does the County believe this makes any sense or that the current wage is fair and competitive? DCSPA and SBU are not asking to be the best paid law enforcement agency in Northern Nevada, but simply to be competitive with surrounding agencies in the area.
The County should immediately give DCSPA and SBU (retroactively) the 9 percent salary adjustment received by all other County employees on June 25, 2022 — no strings attached.
This would be an immediate signal of good faith and reassure the deputies and sergeants that the County does indeed value their service.
It simply makes no sense for the County to engage in “hard ball” negotiation tactics with the individuals who are literally “sworn” to protect us.
Please utilize the public comment period during a County Commissioner meeting to support DCSPA and SBU in their quest for a fair wage. The next meeting is at 10 a.m. on Dec. 15 at the Historic Courthouse (1616 8th Street, Minden).
If you cannot attend in person you may also email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean Miller is president of the Douglas County Employees Association