Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office
Hempstead County Law Enforcement Center
312 South Washington
P.O. Box 416
Hope, Arkansas 71801
James A. Singleton, Sheriff
Dear Citizens of Hempstead County,
August 24, 2015
The following is a letter I sent to the Hempstead County Quorum Court on April 25, 2014. I was seeking funding to increase the salaries of our deputies.
As of this date deputies have received no consideration in raising salaries, this has resulted in losing very well trained, professional deputies to other Law Enforcement Agencies and the private sector. This causes a constant revolving door at the counties expense your (TAXPAYERS) expense.
Hempstead County Deputies make $24,700.00 per year, no matter if they have worked 10 days or ten years. I conducted a survey of the 10 Southwest Arkansas Counties that surround Hempstead County. Hempstead County deputies are the lowest paid in the 10 counties surveyed.
I am told that there is no funds available for any type of raises, I like you am against any new taxes being forced upon us. However, An Attorney General’s opinion in 1994 gives the Quorum Court authority to establish a Voluntary Tax for a specific purpose. Ie; Public safety, Deputies salaries.
A Voluntary tax is a tax that is strictly voluntary, which means if you want to pay it you can if you don’t you don’t have to.
How the voluntary tax would work if approved by the Quorum Court would be as follows.
If approved a $10.00 voluntary tax would be added to each tax statement mailed out by the collector. When you pay your taxes you could choose to accept the tax or choose not to pay the tax. If you choose to accept the tax the money from the tax would go into a fund which could only be used to help fund deputies salaries.
The Collector sends out approximately 14,000.00 tax statements a year which could raise about $140,000.00 a year if everyone chose to pay the tax. I know everyone will not choose to pay the tax and that is ok, but the people who do choose to accept the tax could help fund our deputies raises.
I need your help, the deputies need your help with this very important public safety issue.
I put to you the citizens of Hempstead County this question.
Would you as a taxpayer of Hempstead County support the voluntary tax to help fund Deputies Salaries?
April 25, 2014
To: The Honorable Members of the Hempstead County Quorum Court
From: Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton
RE: Deputies Salary
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I write as a matter of concern I have for the deputies in my administration and the safety of the citizens of our county over what seems to be a never ending battle to keep well trained professional deputies.
During the last two weeks I have lost two very well trained and experienced deputies one with seven years of experience and training, and the other a 4 year veteran officer who also very well trained. Both deputies expressed regret of leaving but felt like it was best financially for their families. One was lost to the private sector and one to the Hope Police Department.
Today I had two veteran Deputies tell me they were leaving, one for the Hope Police Department, and one to the private sector once again the sole reason was a financial one.
As you may be aware this has been and continues to be a problem we hire a deputy, equip, and train them then another agency hires them for a higher salary. We occupy the same building as the Hope Police Department and it’s very easy for a certified deputy to just walk across the hall and increase his salary by $9,379.00. The city wins out because they were not out any money to train the deputy. The same applies to the Howard County Sheriff’s Office the deputies pay at Howard County is $6,348.00 more than Hempstead County. Columbia County pays its deputies $7,927 more, Miller County $5,067, Sevier County $6,890, Nevada County $1,060.00.
The Current salary of a Hempstead County Deputy is $24,700.00 there are no step/Longivity increases the only way to increase that salary is certificate pay which was approved by the court in 2011. And that takes at least three years to be eligible to receive the first certificate. For example when a prospective applicant comes in for an interview I tell them the salary is $24,700.00 with no chance of an increase unless everyone in the county gets an increase which has as long as I have worked for the county been true.
When we do hire a deputy there are expenses before the person ever works a single day such as a Physical and Psychological examination which cost’s approximately $300.00, Then once hired the costs of uniforms at $1,300.00, a ballistic vest at $750.00, Three month’s salary while at the academy $6,175.00 and another month of ride along after the academy before the new hire can be put out on his own.
That’s $8,525.00 that the county is out before the new hire works on his own and not having another deputy tied up training him.
We have lost Seven (7) Deputies since 2010 solely because of pay, Each and every deputy that has tendered their resignation since 2010 has done so because they bettered themselves and their family financially. Before leaving they each expressed regret on having to leave, but because there was not any sign of raises to come they felt that could not wait any longer. We lost certified experienced deputies with valuable training that will take time to replace and yes money. It has cost the County approximately $69, 675.00 for uniforms, training, and equipment not to mention the dedication and experience that was lost when those deputies moved on. You cannot replace experience with inexperience and expect to have the quality of service that the citizens demand.
As you are aware Certified Law Enforcement Officers (Deputy Sheriffs) face an enormous amount of danger when they report for work. Deputies work Holidays, weekends, and nights, we can’t and don’t shut the doors and go home when weather gets bad and the roads are dangerous, instead Deputies are out there putting themselves in harm’s way to protect and respond to calls and keep the citizens updated and informed about situations harmful to their safety.
Deputies have to be well trained and equipped to properly do a professional job and keep the county safe and from being sued. The days of hiring a person and throwing them the keys to the patrol car is over. Today’s Deputies have to be trained in a variety things not only law enforcement. I realize that we can never compete with state agencies or larger agencies but it is time we quit wasting the taxpayer’s money and at least get a competitive salary for our deputies.
No matter how loyal of an employee they are they are always going to choose the financial wellbeing their family when they can. When this happens the county not only has lost the time and money put into training and equipping the deputy it loses the experience of that officer.
I am not saying give a raise to equal what the City pays that is not feasible, but a substantial increase and a step/ Longevity plan to at least give them something to work toward. And help keep the people we pay to train working for Hempstead County not train someone at the expense of the county to work for another agency.
I want the members of the Court to Understand I, as the Elected Sheriff am not seeking a pay increase I want to concentrate solely on the Deputies and Jailers
James A. Singleton, Sheriff