Clallam County Sheriff to offer bonuses for new, existing jail deputies

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office plans to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to offer referral, signing and retention bonuses in an effort to address a 30 percent shortage of corrections deputies at the jail.

“We need to do something regarding the jail really, really quickly,” Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict told the county commissioners during their Monday work session.

Deputy Human Resources Director Tom Reyes said 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 while patrol deputies would receive a $10,000 retention bonus 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.

A jail deputy’s training is different from that of a patrol deputy. Jail deputies don’t investigate crimes except those within the jail. They run the jail and provide courthouse security. Patrol deputies also have arrest authority while corrections deputies do not.

A patrol deputy’s training lasts six months versus two months for a jail deputy.

“Patrol does not have the same need as corrections. It does not have as many vacancies, but we have some very qualified deputies that I would hate to see us lose to Sequim or PAPD,” Reyes said.

Benedict said the jail is down nine positions, or 30 percent, which is typical of jails statewide.

The jail requires minimum staffing for safety. He’s down two patrol positions, soon to be one after someone transfers from the jail. Overtime is mandatory in the jail, and that is having an adverse impact on morale, he said.

Patrol officers can work in the jail, Benedict said. The two positions have different requirements and powers.

Benedict said everyone is looking for healthy 21- to 40-year-old men and women without criminal, drug or behavioral issues.

Jails statewide are limiting capacity, which Clallam County did through the COVID-19 pandemic, Benedict said. However, that isn’t a good solution and doesn’t really solve the problem the way it does at larger jails, which simply can shut down an entire wing, he said.

Benedict said the Washington State Patrol is down 100 positions, Tacoma is down 85 positions, Seattle is down 400 positions and King County is down 100 positions.

“These are huge numbers. It’s put us in a bidding war,” Benedict said.

The jail is lucky to get the applicants it does, adding that they get one qualified applicant for every two positions.

Port Angeles and Sequim have more attractive pay and benefits, so their police departments have been recruiting from Clallam County, Benedict said.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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