Employees of the Carroll County Sheriff's Department yesterday asked the county commissioners for better pay and benefits, more staff and additional radio equipment.
During the one-hour meeting with the commissioners, department employees requested: higher pay, a 20-year retirement plan similar to those of nearby jurisdictions, portable radios for the six department vehicles that don't have any, more road patrol officers and detention center guards, better pay and working conditions for the nurse who treats both the staff and inmates, and more employees in the work-release section.
Deputy First Class Timmie Schaeffer of the road patrol section told the commissioners that under the present system it takes a deputy 17 years to reach top pay scale, some members have not had a pay raise in five years and most have not received an increase in three years.
The deputy added that a member of the sheriff's department with seven years experience earns from $12,000 to $14,000 less than a state trooper with the same experience.
He added that deputies are now involved in road patrol and handle traffic, drug and other criminal cases as their counterparts do in the state and the city of Westminster.
Deputy Schaeffer said the portable radios are necessary at times lTC when the officers are out of their cars and need to make contact during an emergency. He cited an incident last week when a deputy was having problems with a suspect and could not communicate with headquarters or other officers.
Sgt. Brian Burk, an 11-year veteran assigned to detention, told the commissioners his officers are no longer just overnight guards for the town drunks, but must be counselors, teachers and much more.
The situation is critical, he said, with officers often having to work 16-hour shifts in the 100-plus inmate facility. Money going to over time pay could be used to hire 16 to 18 more detention officers, he said.
Cpl. Dean Leppo, who works in the work-release section, said that when he joined the force 19 years ago you raised your right hand, pinned on a badge, strapped on a gun and you were a deputy. Today, he said, officers must complete the same training as other law enforcement officers.
Corporal Leppo told the commissioners his section has returned more than $60,000 to the county from the work-release program, and more is expected next week.
Commissioner Julia Gouge told the deputies the outlook for pay increases and more employees is not good this year and said the board had requested a fiscal 1993 budget with no increase from all of the county departments.
"But when we are shown a real need, we will try to deal with it," Mrs. Gouge said. "And you have shown us the real need."