HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Sheriff Troy Peterson says his deputies deserve better pay. Since taking office a few months ago, it's been at the top of his list to petition county leaders for better deputy pay. For Peterson, it's all about building a better department through retention.
The starting salary for a Harrison County Sheriff's Deputy is about $32,300. Sheriff Peterson says that's just not enough.
"We have boats. We have water patrols. We go into back bays. We do helicopter. We have everything that other agencies have, but we're the lowest paid on the coast. So it really makes no sense to me at all either," said Peterson.
Peterson says by the time a deputy in training is at his or her six month mark, the county has already spent $4,000.
"We have a vested interest in this person, and once we get them trained then they're leaving to go to other agencies that are paying more money," said Peterson.
In January, Peterson presented a report to some of the county supervisors, showing them the pay difference in comparison to other coast law enforcement agencies. Since then, he's been doing more research to make a formal presentation for more money in next year's budget.
"If you have a young family that's just starting out that can come here and make $32,000 starting out on patrol, but can look at the next door and live wherever he wants to live but still drive to Biloxi or Gulfport and make more money, why wouldn't that person do that?" said Peterson.
Based on the numbers, Peterson says they're looking at a 6.5 percent raise, which amounts to about $300,000 added to the budget.
"I'm not asking for us to be the top paid on the coast. What I'm asking for is for us to be comparable to other agencies that way our retention rate, we can maintain the people that we train," said Peterson.
Sheriff Peterson says after talking to some county leaders he is optimistic that the official pay raise proposal will be well received when it's presented.