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November 24, 2021

 

 

 

 

By Myrna Trauntvein
TN Correspondent

A motion was made three times before it was finally adopted and parity pay for the sheriff’s office jailers and road deputies became reality.

Parity pay for jailers will begin with the first pay period in January 2022.

Doug Anderson, sheriff, Travis Kenison, chief deputy, Scott Sorenson, lieutenant jail commander, and Drake Underwood, administrative lieutenant, met with the commission to seek the new pay increase for the jailers.

“Jailers have the same risks as do road patrol deputies,” said Anderson. “They should receive equal pay.”

John Crippen, county administrator, said that the increase in state prisoners had raised enough money to cover the additional pay for this year. The state pays the county sheriff’s office for taking the prisoners.

“Just the food the inmates eat is not covered,” said Crippen. “There might be a slight increase in electric power and natural gas use.”

The state would like Juab County to take more inmates but the jail needs to have a separation of men, women and locals who are incarcerated. More room would be needed, Sorensen said.

“Some of the inmates will be here until 2027,” Sorensen said. “We have maintained a population of 15 most years.”

The jail did not have a full-time doctor, he said.

“We don’t take active gang members,” Sorensen said. “We have a waiting list. Guys put in their names to be here.”

The state inmates, while they do not leave the jail premises, they do grow gardens in the summer and they do the laundry. They are kept busy.

“Both the jailers and the road deputies are equally important,” said T. Kenison. “I have done both and in my eyes, they are both important jobs.”

Anderson said that some officers liked the jail. They would prefer working there but it was hard to keep them because of the difference in pay. Road deputies made more money than did jailers.

Marvin Kenison, commissioner, said that he had long favored parity pay for jailers and road deputies.

“I think they should receive equal pay,” he said.

Anderson said that he thought that the two groups of officers encountered the same dangers. They even faced the same dangers from the public. The jailers transported prisoners to and from court and were in full gear when they did so. They were in sheriff’s vehicles and, the way the public at large perceived law enforcement today, they were in danger of being harmed by that public just as were road deputies.

“We still utilize them for field services,” said Anderson. “State law says that they should be with a road deputy but that is done.”

When he sent deputies out on the West Desert, he did not want them to travel alone. In addition, during the Ute Stampede and Easter weekend at the Sand Dunes, he paired jailers and road deputies.

Painter said that his brother, a deputy, had worked in the jail for two years and had been on the road for 12. How is the change made? he asked.

Crippen said that officers under parity did not move in steps but in grades.

Each grade has step rates that are each worth a percent of the employee’s salary. Within each grade there are step increases based on an acceptable level of performance and longevity.

The pay grade is generally defined by the level of the responsibilities performed within the job description of the position, the authority exercised by the position and the length of time the employee has performed the job.

The pay grade is often related to the level of job responsibility and authority. The steps inside the pay grade are often related to experience and performance.

The lieutenant position is not included in the parity pay increases some jailers will receive, said Anderson.

“Road deputies have to make split second decisions,” said Hansen.

So do jailers, said T. Kenison.

The city recently brought in an arrest and jailers had to make split second decisions and hard work to bring the prisoner under control, said Sorensen.

Hansen said he wondered if jailers used the position to move to the better one of being a road deputy.

POST academy provides training in three areas: Special Function Officer (SFO), Basic Correction Officer (BCO), and Law Enforcement Officer (LEO), said Anderson.

The SFO is a nine-week program. The BCO is a seven-week program and qualifies cadets to work at a county jail or at the state prison. An LEO is a 13-week program. The training includes accident investigation, sex crimes investigation, firearms, crimes in progress, patrol, physical fitness and arrest control.

“The officers are POST (Police Officers Standards Training) certified,” said Anderson. “The jailers may come out and help road deputies, but unless the road deputies are jail certified, they cannot go inside the jail.”

Underwood said that Chris Painter, T. Kenison and himself were able to do both, so were a number of others.

Someone hired by the office with more years experience would be hired at a higher grade, said T. Kenison.

“I am not against parity pay,” said Painter, “I just want to think it through and want to think of everything before making a decision.”

Investigators and K-9 handlers were always paid more, said Painter.

“The jailers are running their guts out all day long,” said Sorensen. “They have thousands of standards they have to meet and they are inspected continuously. It isn’t an easy job.”

Crippen said that the sheriffs office had added enough to their budget to cover the expense of moving the jailers to parity with road deputies. It would take $71,000 per year to pair the salaries. By taking the 15 state prisoners, they had brought in $334,000.

M. Kenison made the motion to adopt parity pay three times but the first two times, more questions were asked by Painter and Hansen.

At the conclusion of the discussion, M. Kenison, made the motion a third time. Painter made the second and all three voted in favor.

Anderson said that the parity wage would make the job more appealing to applicants. He said they were having a difficult time to attract jailers because of the pay.