Time to settle with deputies
The Douglas County Sheriffs have been in salary negotiations with the county since March 2022. This was brought to our attention by Jeff Schemenauer in his Nov. 16 letter to the editor.
The sheriff’s department provides the most essential service that the county offers. If we don’t have the rule of law, we have nothing. Almost 2,000 years ago the Roman, Pliny the Younger, wrote “From law and order, everything arises”.
Our deputies are compensated at levels well below neighboring jurisdictions. This was documented by Justin Fricke in his article of March 16, 2022. Deputies in neighboring counties are paid 20-47 percent more than Douglas deputies. Neighboring counties offer longevity pay and medical retirement; Douglas doesn’t. This is more than a cost-of-living issue.
Our deputies save lives and keep us safe. They face life-threatening danger. Several have been shot and have suffered permanent physical damage. Five were exposed to fentanyl and over 15 doses of Narcan were used to keep them alive. It’s crazy that the county expects this level of dedication without commensurate salary and benefits.
In The Record-Courier on March 22, 2022, our county manager announced an “across the board” pay raise for county employees, but somehow that raise did not include the deputies. County officials made a few comments at the time:
“Vacant positions put more weight on other employees, creating burnout.”
“Adjusting compensation to more closely reflect rates of pay for the market in the region is a critical step forward.”
“Douglas County is falling behind in terms of market compensation. It is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain qualified employees.”
These points perfectly describe the situation at the sheriff’s department now.
The department has been losing deputies for several years. This is a wealth of experience. Two more deputies left recently. Tyree Holdridge, the deputy voted best in the 2021 Record Courier ‘Best of’ rankings? He’s gone. Several detectives have recently left. The new hires are leaving too. Of the most-recent 22 hires, 18 are gone. This is a huge waste of money and resources.
Patrol staffing is at 1980s level because the department cannot attract or keep qualified hires. And yet, our population has more than doubled.
Ultimately this isn’t about salaries for deputies, it is about public safety. It is about the service provided to the citizens of Douglas County. To attract the best deputies and keep the highest standards, we must offer attractive wages and benefits. Otherwise, the people of Douglas will suffer.
When will the county commissioners and county management compensate our deputies with competitive salary and benefits, not just cost of living increases? The county, to date, has used $50,000 of our tax dollars to hire high-priced Las Vegas lawyers to fight a wage increase that even the county manager said was warranted.
I encourage concerned residents to contact their commissioners or make a statement at a commissioner’s meeting. All the information you need is at www.douglascountynv.gov.
East Fork firefighters support deputies
On behalf of the East Fork Professional Firefighters, Local 3726, the Executive Board is writing this letter in support of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office sworn personnel.
During our careers as a firefighters in Douglas County, we have personally seen our deputies shot, beaten, and run over by vehicles. All of these incidents have nearly resulted in a line of duty death. Despite these near death experiences, these individuals have returned to work with a smile on their faces, ready to serve. We don’t personally know why county leaders are choosing to withhold adequate pay from our deputies. But we ask them, have you forgotten the sacrifice these men and women make on a daily basis? Maybe you should strap on some body armor and go for a ride. You would then realize what our law enforcement does for this community on a daily basis.
While you are sleeping in your cozy warm bed, our law enforcement is getting drugs off the streets. They are serving warrants on known violent offenders. They are getting drunk drivers off the road…and the list keeps on going.
While you were all sleeping on Dec. 20, 2020, a DCSO Sergeant was shot in the face and chest while trying to apprehend a dangerous fugitive. What price do you put on that type of sacrifice?
Is that not worth a competitive wage? According to the leadership of Douglas County, it’s not.
Despite being underpaid and undervalued, DCSO sworn personnel continue to provide the highest levels of service to this community. Unfortunately, our county management wouldn’t know that because they aren’t out on the streets to see it. But we see it. We see it every
day that we are at work. We have seen off duty DCSO members risk their lives to try and save a drowning woman from the freezing river. We have seen DCSO deputies save the lives of people in cardiac arrest by performing high quality CPR. We have seen DCSO take drug dealers off the streets. We have seen DCSO deputies deescalate potentially violent situations without the use of
force. Most of you who read this will never hear of all the amazing things they do on a daily basis. They protect our community because they want to, despite being paid 20-47 percent less than comparable police departments.
Despite their desire to serve our community, they have to keep their families in mind.
The citizens of Douglas County don’t want a constant revolving door of new deputies. The county should want to hire and retain quality law enforcement officers that are incentivized to spend their entire careers with DCSO. That’s what a healthy community does.
In conclusion, we are embarrassed by our county leadership. Our law enforcement is not asking to be paid the highest wages. Instead, they are simply asking to be competitive with neighboring departments. For all of you reading this, we simply ask that you please support our DCSO sworn personnel as they fight for what they deserve. Let your voices be heard. Talk to the leaders of Douglas County and ask them to do the right thing.
To the men and women of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, thank you for your service.
East Fork Professional Firefighters, Local 3726
County should do the right thing
As a former commissioner and school board trustee for Douglas County, I find the recent developments in the ongoing contract negotiations between the county and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputies Association to be unsettling, unnecessary, and quite frankly, unbelievable.
Recent actions by the county include withholding a 9 percent salary raise previously granted to other County employees, suspending holiday pay, incentive pay, as well as postponing merit raises earned following annual evaluations. Additionally, there is no guarantee of retroactive pay once a contract is obtained.
In my years as a chief negotiator for a police association, I understand the motivation for this action, which is buried in Article 2 subsection C of the existing contract between the County and the Association. It states that “after June 30, 2022, no increase in salaries wages, or other monetary benefits will occur or be paid by the county to any employee represented by the association until a successor labor agreement is executed by the association and the county.”
In my opinion, this contract language benefits the county at the expense of the employees, can be considered as “leverage” and calls into question whether the County is bargaining in “good faith.” Such language should be eliminated by mutual agreement of both parties. The optics of this situation brings new meaning to the term “defund the police.”
The County Board of Commissioners followed the recommended actions of a salary survey report and adopted a one time 7 percent market adjustment of the pay and ranges for all employees, in addition to the 2 percent COLA effective July 1, 2022. The recommendations also included adding a “memorandum of understanding” with the one employee group (DCEA) which has two years left on their contract to allow the above listed benefits to be paid out.
While we all are having to deal with inflation at a 40-year high, it would make sense for the commissioners to temporarily waive Article 2 subsection C and immediately implement the recommendations stated above, providing some financial relief to the deputies until a contract can be achieved.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it is embarrassing to think this is how the County treats its “first responders.” This community truly appreciates our sheriff’s department, and I call upon the commissioners to do the right thing.
Deputies make me feel safe
I’m writing I support of Douglas County deputies. How can the fat cats who hold the purse strings not grant our deputies the raise they richly deserve.
They are true public servants.
I, for one, feel very safe living here because of them. I hope their raise is not being withheld because they stand up for the people and property when BLM came to town expecting to cause chaos.
Our deputies should not be expected to put their lives on the line for below industry standards compensation.
State does verify new voters
In response to a question posed by Ed Eggert regarding the DMV voter registration process. I went to the Nevada Secretary of State’s website to find an answer. By requesting the heading Verification of Voter Registration Process, it explains the steps taken to verify the qualifications to obtain the right to vote. These steps are taken regardless which method is used to register.
The process is secure and offers checks and balances to assure an individual is eligible to vote. Our Nevada Secretary of State is and will be the guardian to prevent fraud in our state. If you doubt my assurance the steps taken by the Secretary of State’s office are thorough, please take the time to review this information for yourself.
Airport culture in jeopardy
The Minden Tahoe Airport management structure is broken, and the incredible culture of our airport and its community are in jeopardy.
Various issues which I have witnessed in person, and that I have heard from others which mirror my own experiences with airport management, have prompted me to respond to the airport manager’s letter. The airport tenants and users are locked into a mutually adversarial relationship with airport management. I assure you it is not for the airport community lack of trying to communicate with management.
Did you know that in the previous AAC meeting prior (Airport Advisory Committee) to this last one, AAC Chair called a vote to disband the AAC? If not for an airport tenant explaining why this would be a bad idea, it would probably have passed. The AAC is the only formal public review of Airport Management for airport users and tenants, and management seems determined to subvert that oversight.
Did you know the Airport Management is a private company contracted by Douglas County to manage our precious airport. This contract is up for renewal soon. The Airport Director is part-owner of the company. The airport manager is the brother of the operations supervisor. And why so much management?
I must report disrespectful, unprofessional, and entirely unwarranted scoldings of pilots by airport staff. Examples are endless and include: Abusive attitude towards aviators who are actually following the rules, confrontation when staff was asked to stop spraying weedkiller into open hangars, unsympathetic response when issues are raised with staff, and affixing sticky labels with punitive messages to personal aircraft with no valid reason.
Basically, there is no attitude of working together to find solutions, so naturally things get worse. Attempts at communication by tenants are marginalized and ignored. This is why more than 30 airport tenants showed up at the last AAC meeting to make their voices heard. Only 3 of 7 AAC members attended, why? So meeting was canceled and voices were ignored again.
If this county can run a state of the art Community Center which is a shining light of service and world class, it can do the same with its jewel of an airport. There is no airport like Minden-Tahoe on planet earth. The residents, pilots and professionals of Douglas County should manage their own airport – not contract it out. There is no lack of talent in our own community! Many capable people are ready to initiate this change. I urge the Commissioners to consider this option before the current Airport Management Contract is renewed or reassigned.
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