Jan. 25, 2017 – West Bend, WI- The Washington County Deputy Sheriff’s Association (WCDSA) members strive to promote quality public safety and professionalism within the ranks of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office via an emphasis on education/training of its members, community outreach and trust building. These principles ensure that the citizens of Washington County receive exceptional law enforcement protection by attracting and retaining the most qualified Deputy Sheriffs, while balancing responsible use of tax dollars. The WCDSA strives to maintain an “overall benefits package” available to Deputy Sheriffs that is competitive when compared to other benefits packages in similar counties.
Washington County faces challenges with the increasing drug activity related to Heroin abuse. With near epidemic level of Heroin abuse within the County, comes an increased need for law enforcement resources to respond to crimes related to Heroin addiction and the overdose death cases. The County needs to maintain a high level of quality law enforcement professionals at the Sheriff’s Office to provide superior law enforcement services during this epidemic. The WCDSA is committed to partnering with our community and county leaders to ensure that Washington County remains a safe place to live, work and raise a family.
The WCDSA bargaining unit has tried to implement a competitive and attractive “overall benefits package” for its members while creating little to no hardship on the taxpayers. In the past, the association has volunteered to accept no pay increases and/or agreed to contribute to their retirement for the good of the taxpayers or when Washington County has been in a difficult position financially. These concessions have now allowed Washington County to have a “county tax rate” which is one of the lowest in southeastern Wisconsin and which is at its lowest point in almost 50 years.
These previous concessions have now brought about some unforeseen consequences, which we believe will affect the safety of your communities and county. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has seen significant turnover (five retirements and 14 resignations from WCDSA members) in the past four years with senior Deputy Sheriffs leaving for private sector jobs.
The Sheriff’s Office has had difficulty recruiting and retaining quality law enforcement professionals. This has resulted in a “revolving door” of new deputies (over half of the patrol staff has less than four years of experience) and continual manpower shortages. When compared to neighboring counties, the problem related to the recruitment and retention of quality law enforcement professionals at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office appears to be more severe than the neighboring counties. These issues, along with the “hard-line stance” taken by the county’s bargaining committee during the current negotiations, has contributed to the low-morale and the frustration amongst the WCDSA members.
Washington County’s Administrator and County Board have outlined “Public Safety” as its number one “Core Service.” As part of this commitment to “Core Services,” the County Administrator and Board have pledged that they are committed to having “high quality core services.” Part of having “high-quality core services” is having quality law enforcement professionals providing those services. In order to attract and retain quality law enforcement professionals, the county needs to offer a benefits package that is competitive with other law enforcement agencies.
Sheriff Schmidt addressed this issue during a 2016 County Board meeting and described the County’s latest “overall benefits package” offer as “flat.” Since that time the county’s bargaining committee has done nothing to improve the benefits package and has not provided a solution to the recruitment and retention issue.
The WCDSA is requesting that you contact your county board supervisor and encourage the county’s bargaining committee to reengage in open, honest and “transparent” discussions with the WCDSA bargaining committee to come up with an “overall benefits package” which will attract and retain high quality law enforcement professionals to ensure that Washington County will remain a safe and secure community.
Washington County Supervisors:
Washington County Administrator, Joshua Schoemann:
[email protected] or phone 262-306-2200