PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County commissioners have approved giving Sheriff Bill Benedict funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act for referral, retention and recruitment bonuses for patrol and corrections deputies.
Benedict said he expects to spend $534,000 but would like to keep a $600,000 cap approved by commissioners for the bonus program.
The unanimous decision was made on Tuesday to address a 30 percent staffing shortage — nine positions — at the jail as well as to aid in patrol staffing.
The patrol sergeants, corrections sergeants and corrections officers will receive the retention bonuses, but the patrol deputies will not because that bargaining unit wouldn’t agree to spreading the bonuses over three years instead of two, Bill Benedict told the commissioners at their Monday work session before the measure was considered for action on Tuesday.
Benedict also agreed to provide monthly updates to the commissioners so they could evaluate the effectiveness of the bonus program.
Commissioner Randy Johnson said Monday: “When you came close to what was a crisis in our jail, I certainly would appreciate being able to track how we are doing as we go forward with our proposal here.
“In other words, are we able to get back the eight and a half folks we are short? That is something that is very, very important,” Johnson said. “That grabbed my attention, very much so.”
The Washington State Association of Counties has agreed to make funding for jail staff and capital projects its main priority during the upcoming legislative session, according to Commissioner Mark Ozias.
“We obviously are not the only county struggling with capital and staff personnel expenses necessary to maintain and run a safe and effective jail,” Ozias said.
Benedict said the additional money beyond $534,000 and up to $600,000 could be useful.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to have more deputies positions that we would like to get laterals in for, particularly with the budget and what we anticipate for next year,” he said.
According to a Sept. 12 presentation by Deputy Human Resources Director Tom Reyes, a patrol deputy who is a lateral hire, either moving over to corrections or from another agency with the same qualifications, will receive a $25,000 bonus payable in three annual installments, while an entry-level hire will receive a $10,000 bonus. Both hires would receive a $2,500 referral bonus.
The retention bonus for corrections deputies would be $8,500. Patrol sergeants would receive $10,000 retention bonuses because those salaries are 15 percent higher.
They must have satisfactory evaluations and not be on a performance improvement plan, Reyes said.
The first payment would be after completing the probation period, with the second and third payments payable after the second and third years.
Port Angeles and Sequim have more attractive pay and benefits, so their police departments have been recruiting from Clallam County, Benedict has said.
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at email@example.com.