Help wanted at Carroll County Sheriff’s Office
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office is actively seeking new detention officers and dispatchers, chief deputy Maj. Jerry Williams said last week.
Staffing at the Carroll County Detention Center reached a crisis level earlier this year, when Williams told an advisory committee appointed by the county quorum court that the jail had been operating with 20 detention officers — 10 fewer than the number allotted in this year’s county budget. At the time, Williams said six of those 20 had given their notice, which would have left the jail with just 14 detention officers.
The advisory committee recommended that the quorum court immediately increase starting pay for detention officers by $3 an hour. The quorum court approved a $2-an-hour raise — to a starting wage of $14.75 an hour — with a $500 retention bonus to be paid at the end of August.
Williams said last week that detention-center staffing has improved, but more detention officers are still needed.
“We’re not near where we were when we were in crisis,” he said. “We’re sitting at nine down right now and we had another one turn in their notice yesterday after being here for years and years, so two weeks from now we’re going to be 10 down.”
In dispatch, however, the situation is more drastic.
“We’re at half-staff right now in dispatch,” Williams said. “We’re in crisis mode in dispatch.”
The situation is so dire, he said, that a full-time administrative assistant for the sheriff’s office has been working nearly full time in dispatch as well.
While dispatchers’ starting pay is lower than detention officers’, Williams said dispatchers will receive a pay increase in the 2022 county budget.
“They start off less but they’re getting a bigger raise so they’ll be really close to that $15 an hour,” he said.
In addition to their hourly wage, Williams said all county employees are offered health insurance at no cost — a $7,000-a-year benefit.
“That’s like having over an $18-an-hour job,” he said. “We’re at the point now where we’re actually starting to be competitive with some of the big employers.”
Beyond the hourly wage and benefits, Williams said working as a detention officer or dispatcher is a potential open door into a career in law enforcement. He referred to a former dispatcher who’s now a trooper with the Arkansas State Police and a former detention officer who is now a state probation and parole officer.
Another fringe benefit is the opportunity to serve the community.
“It’s the kind of job that a person can feel really good about and take pride in because they’re a public servant,” Williams said. “They’re in county government and doing something that the citizens need every day. This is a function that we just can’t live without. We can’t live without law enforcement.”
Applications for detention officer and dispatch positions can be picked up at the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office at 205 Hailey Road in Berryville.