Calhoun Co. Sheriff calls for deputy pay raises to catch up with larger neighbors

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Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 6:52 PM EDT
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CALHOUN COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Calhoun County’s top law enforcer is calling for pay raises for his deputies over concerns about manpower and response time.

Sheriff Thomas Summers gave a presentation before the county council Monday night requesting additional funding ahead of the creation of the county budget.

The county’s base salary for a certified deputy is $35,335, well below nearby Richland County ($42,001.05), Lexington County ($45,614.40), and Orangeburg County ($41,688 without certification).

Summers said the salary disparity has left his patrol unit six deputies short, representing roughly a third of the unit. He said that can cut into response time.

“When people are scared, or when people need a deputy, they need them quick. You know, and when I’m telling them it’s going to take longer for us to get here, that’s unacceptable,” he said.

Monday night he brought deputies to the meeting and highlighted the risks they take to the council.

“When y’all dial 9-1-1 that’s who coming when you’re having the worst day of your life,” he said.

County Council Chair James Haigler said the request will be reviewed.

“I won’t commit now, we have to look at and see exactly what we got. We probably will some, we told him that earlier,” he said.

In comments to reporters, Haigler also raised other issues.

“The thing is, that people don’t understand, maybe they do, it’s not only the sheriff, I understand that it’s an important part of the county, but other people, the county has other people that we have to pay too, who are unpaid probably more than the sheriff’s department. And all these people, we have to staff everybody, we have to keep everything going,” he said.

He also compared the risks deputies face in Calhoun County against those faced in Richland County, intimating Richland County is more dangerous.

“The other side of the story we look at, if you a deputy in Richland County versus a deputy in Calhoun County, and we talked last night somewhat well the sheriff did about the risk for the deputies and stuff. Risk your life in Richland County versus Calhoun County and see what you got,” he said.

2021 SLED crime data shows Calhoun County had a higher rate of simple assault and sexual battery, while Richland County has a higher rate of murder and aggravated assault.

The timeline for a decision on the raises is unclear.

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