Electing a New Sheriff
As all of you who work here at Metro know, we will be electing a new Sheriff this fall. This may be one of the most important Sheriff elections in my 30 years here at Metro. Over the next several years, our new Sheriff will face several crossroads, and the decisions he makes will have longstanding consequences in both our workplace and our community.
Let’s talk about a few of the decisions the new Sheriff will have to make that I believe will be critical to all the employees here at Metro. First and likely the biggest concern is the budget. Our current Sheriff has been telling people for several years now that Metro has a budget shortfall. After looking over the budgets from the past several years, I concur that we do indeed have a shortfall, but until now the Sheriff has been able to fill it with what we have all come to know as the “end fund balance.” I could go into great detail about the end fund balance, but the bottom line is that at some point there will be no end fund balance to help offset the deficit in our budget. In 2013, the legislators passed Senate Bill 1, which allowed the Sheriff to use some of the money from the first quarter-cent of the More Cops tax to supplant the budget for a period of three years. At this point, there are only two of those three years left, and when that ability goes away you have to wonder what the Department will do. The City and the County are just going to have to put more money into the Metro budget.
Now for the More Cops tax issue. As you know, the new part of this tax still has not passed in the County Commission. I think that getting this additional sales tax passed should be one of the top priorities of the new Sheriff. Not only have we lost a lot of commissioned positions over the past few years here at Metro, but we have also lost many civilian jobs. Both these commissioned and civilian jobs are important to the mission of the Department and need to be brought back so we can effectively fight crime.
The rate of pay we all earn, as well as benefits offered to our employees, is a question that will also need to be addressed in the years to come. Should the new Sheriff continue to ask the current employees to take cuts in pay, or maybe further change the pay structure for new employees? I do not believe either of these options is viable. The first option cannot continue, as current Metro employees have given more than their fair share and there is nothing left to give. The second option is equally bad, because you get what you pay for and the Department will no longer be able to recruit quality employees if it cuts further into the pay and benefits available to new employees. If this organization is to continue to be the finest police department in the country, we need to have a compensation package that will attract the best and the brightest candidates. Our benefits will continue to be a topic of discussion. The one benefit currently in the limelight is our health care insurance. It is no doubt getting more expensive, but it is vital to a P# 6272 healthy workforce. Your benefits have already been cut, and by now you have heard that you no longer have life insurance provided by the Health Trust. It is time for the new Sheriff to help the associations secure these benefits at the contract table.
Now let’s talk about the community and its relationship with our Department and our Sheriff. I still believe that the vast majority of our community supports Metro and law enforcement in general here in Clark County. We certainly have a vocal minority of people in our community who are not happy with anything we do, but sadly I don’t think that will ever change. There is no doubt that crime is on the rise in our community, and with this and other problems it will be imperative that our new Sheriff keep the community on the side of law enforcement.
The next problem for the new Sheriff to face may be the most difficult of all. Our new Sheriff will have to put the swagger back in the office of Sheriff with the other elected officials. This statement is by no means meant to be disrespectful to our current Sheriff; he has been Sheriff through very difficult times, but the new Sheriff must again be able to gain the support of elected officials around our city and county or Metro will have some hard days ahead. All these problems will fall directly at the feet of our new Sheriff on the first day of his administration. I don’t know why anybody would want to be Sheriff, but God bless those who have done it in the past, the current Sheriff and those willing to fight to have that job in the future.
You all have a vested interest in who will be elected as your next Sheriff. I ask that you pay attention to the issues and vote for the person who you think can best lead this agency into the future.
As always, be safe and keep up the good fight.