Bowie County collecting signatures for pay increase

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According to the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office, several events are scheduled for the next two weeks to help the BCSO collect the signatures needed to get a proposed pay raise to the Bowie County Commissioners’ Court. Approximately 6,000 signatures are needed to get the initiative before the Court.

Earlier this summer it was announced that employees of the BCSO would file a “Petition to Increase Salaries” as defined in Local Government Code 152.072. The BCSO is asking for pay parity with the Texarkana, Texas Police Department to aid in the retention of current deputies.

Bowie County Deputies are paid significantly lower salaries to perform essentially identical duties. Under the current salary schedule, deputies receive no increases in pay from the date of hire, regardless of the number of years of service. Deputies with 15-20 years of experience earn the same salary as a new hire. There has been no raise or cost of living increase since 2008. As a department, the BCSO is paid an average of 31% less than both Texarkana Police Departments.

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BCSO has 36 commissioned officers on staff. Of those 36 deputies, 18 have a Masters Peace Officer Certificate – the highest level of certification issued by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. An officer starts with a Basic Certificate. After training and years of service, the officer then advances to Intermediate, Advanced, and tops out at Master certification level. There are also eight officers who have at least a Bachelor’s Degree.

The Sheriff’s office proposes paying for the salary increase by restoring the department’s budget. A few years ago, all Bowie County departments incurred a 15 percent budget cut. That budget cut equated to a loss of five BCSO deputies and one civilian employee. BCSO is doing more with less; and doing so in a time that law enforcement desperately needs community support.

“Our budget was cut by 15 percent and never restored. It is our belief that the 15 percent can be restored, along with a slight cost of living increase from the County, to cover the pay raise without raising taxes,” said McCarver. “As previously stated, we desire to work with Bowie County Judge Carlow and the County Commissioners to reach a solution. We sincerely hope that they are able to accommodate the needed raise without the need for a ballot initiative. In the interim, we must continue to collect voter signatures as required to present the initiative if needed. Community response has been overwhelming. In only a few weeks, we have easily attained approximately 70% of the nearly 6000 signatures needed. We expect to have the completed petition within the first week of August. “

Petition signing events can be found at www.Facebook.com/SupportBCSO. The page was developed to help keep the community up to date on the initiative, as well as provide the dates and locations as to where registered voters can sign a petition.

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