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DeWees: Pay must improve to retain the quality law, corrections enforcement who keep Carroll safe | COMMENTARY

Recruiting, hiring, and retaining quality trained personnel in any profession during these times is difficult at best; and, in law enforcement and corrections, it has become the single most pressing internal issue for all sheriffs and chiefs throughout the country. I have had the honor for the past seven years to lead the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office during what has been the most challenging time for my profession, certainly the most trying time in my career. There have been calls for police reform, demands to defund law enforcement, arguments for justice and bail reform all occurring during a pandemic; meanwhile, I have witnessed some of the bravest men and women I know put on a uniform and perform regardless of the forces telling them to flee from the profession.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, they came to work every day without complaint or fear. They improvised, adjusted, and continued protecting the citizens of this county, regardless of the atmosphere. This is why Carroll County is the greatest and safest place in Maryland to live and raise your family.

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The number one responsibility of government is the safety of its citizens and all those that visit a jurisdiction. If a community is safe, everything else thrives. From schools to businesses, everyone and everything flourishes because people feel safe. I do not know of one jurisdiction where people are fleeing to live with crime raging out of control. If given the opportunity, people would choose to live in a safe community every day of the week. Provide a safe community with a quality education system and the opportunities for everyone are limitless! It’s simple, yet difficult at the same time.

Carroll County is at a crossroads with retaining quality law enforcement and corrections professionals. Law enforcement and correctional deputies can and do travel 20 or 30 minutes in any direction from Carroll to a neighboring jurisdiction and make significantly more money. Carroll County must address the compensation of those that protect a flourishing community to guarantee retention of those who we hire and train.

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Those who serve on our Board of Commissioners are in a difficult position of funding a recent request that I made to put Carroll County Sheriff’s deputies at the 50th percentile of salaries when compared to neighboring police organizations and those with similar-sized jurisdictions and responsibilities.

Carroll County deputies are not asking to be the highest paid; however, they certainly should not be the lowest paid, which they currently are. Tough decisions need to be made and asking the next Board of Commissioners to do it has systemically been why public service workers in Carroll County look to other jurisdictions for employment.

Please join me in supporting the men and women that put their lives on the line each and every day to make this community the greatest place to live, work and raise your family!

Jim DeWees is the sheriff of Carroll County. Reach him at Jdewees@carrollcountymd.gov.

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For any member of the community who would like to submit a guest column for publication consideration, it should be approximately 700 words and sent to bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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