Dear Talbot County Neighbors,
As your Sheriff, I am asking you to consider investing in the young men and women who selflessly serve us twenty-four hours a day seven days a week as Talbot County Sheriff’s Deputies. When I took over as Sheriff, the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office had nearly the worst combined salary and benefit package of any office on the Eastern Shore. In the history of your Sheriff’s Office only a handful of deputies ever retired from the office. Basically every one left to move to better pay and or a better retirement system. In the twelve years prior to my arrival there was over a 100% turnover rate for deputies. The cost to train a new deputy is approximately $100,000 for the first year alone. Those costs include recruiting, background investigation, polygraph, psychological examination, pay, benefits, police academy costs, firearms, uniforms, body armor etc. Once they get through that first year the tax payer invests tens of thousands more for yearly training for them to continue to improve as a police officer. The county tax payer basically threw away approximately 4 million dollars during that 12 year period only to have trained deputies leave for other police departments.
With some hard work with the Talbot County Council, your deputies now have a more competitive pay scale; HOWEVER, your deputies still have the worst retirement package of any office on the Eastern Shore. Basically, we were able to put a tourniquet on the bleeding, but it is time we do surgery to fix the problem. We are still losing good quality deputies to other jurisdictions who have retirement systems that allow police officers to retire from police work after 20, 22, and 25 years. Your deputies have to work 30 years to obtain their retirement at lower rates than those systems. Easton Police can retire at 22 years, surrounding Sheriff’s Offices at 25 years, AA County at 20 years. In recent years we lost 3 good quality college educated deputies to AA County who was paying a $20,000 signing bonus for certified police officers. Signing bonuses, lower number of years for retirement and other financial incentives are becoming the norm as the number of police applicants continue to shrink nationally.
As we are all painfully aware policing in America is in crisis. Police applicants at my office are down more than 50%, some jurisdictions applicants are down over 90%. This summer we had 7 applicants and once we started testing 5 of the 7 dropped out of the process. It takes approximately 5 years for a young police officer to become efficient and truly effective. Constant turnover of younger deputies is not good for our community. Young police officers just like any new employees make mistakes. Police mistakes can cost lives and will destroy our relationship with the community. We have made great strides to find quality young people to serve you but WE NEED TO RETAIN THEM! Who do you want protecting your family, investigating child abuse, working drug investigations, keeping our roads safe, or responding to your home in an emergency? As a citizen I want the best we can get. Deputies who want to live here, work here, and be involved in our community. Deputies who will be coaching your kids in sports, teaching them about the dangers of drugs or just attending the same church with you. We all need them to stay here in Talbot County, and I need them for us to continue to protect this great community.
On this years’ ballot there are three questions that I am voting “FOR”, and I encourage you to consider supporting too. Yes, it will cost us more in property tax, but Talbot will still have the lowest property tax of any county in Maryland by far. I am asking you to vote “FOR”…Questions B, C and D on your ballot. The County Council is committed to using those funds for public safety, emergency services and a part of those funds will be used to RETAIN our deputies. You should know that as Sheriff, I do not receive a pension from the Talbot County Sheriff’s office, and if the new system I am proposing passes, I still would not receive a pension.
Feel free to call me to discuss this further. Our deputies need your support!