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  • Writer's pictureBruce Mattare

The High Cost of Being Cheap

$3.5 million!

That's how much money Kootenai County taxpayers lost over the last 10-12 years recruiting and training Sheriff's Office patrol deputies.

$105,962 per Deputy?

The image above is the dry marker board in my company office. It was a Saturday in June that I asked our Sheriff to provide me with how much the Sheriff's Office spends on:

  • Advertising jobs

  • Reviewing applications

  • Interviewing

  • Written testing

  • Polygraphing

  • P.O.S.T. training

  • and field training deputy candidates.

The cost figures (which included staff time) were calculated up to the point of the Field Training Officer signing off on the candidate to drive a patrol car alone. The total loaded cost came out to $105,962. This is only for recruiting and training because I wanted to see just how much money we lose whenever a deputy leaves us.

I say "loaded cost" because for every applicant that didn't make the "cut" we applied that candidate's cost to those who remain. But this isn't the end of the analysis.

Deputy Attrition

Next I wanted to see how many deputies remained with the Sheriff's Office after 36 and 60 months. We went back to 2010, so this covered a period of multiple Sheriff administrations. Again, what was discovered was astounding.

Our of 62 patrol deputies hired, we lost 17 within the first 36 months and 33 total within 60 months. That's over 50% attrition within five years!

To put this into numerical perspective. The County lost about $1.8 million during the first 36 months in recruiting and training expense and another $1.7 million the next 24 months, totaling $3.5 million.

It takes about five years to get a Sheriff's Deputy fully trained. Someone with five years experience can handle multiple situations without requiring command staff support nearly as much. A five-year deputy can operate much more efficiently and handle more calls per shift than a newbie. And, a five-year deputy reduces taxpayer liability significantly.

So Why Were We Losing So Many Deputies?

Once you see how much we spend to recruit and train, then see how many deputies leave within five years and how much money County taxpayers are losing as a result of this extreme attrition rate, then what?

You look to what other agencies are offering their patrol officers. Since a lot of our Sheriff's Deputies go to Coeur d'Alene Police, let's look at what they offer their officers and that we're not.

To begin with, a new police officer in CDA would earn about $11,000 more per year than a new deputy. After five years that same officer would earn about $22,000 more than that deputy. That approximate $22,000 difference equates to about a $100,000 bigger mortgage the CDA police officer could afford compared to a county deputy. Is it any wonder we were losing so many deputies to other agencies?

Further, those agencies got to hire an already-trained deputy from the county, thereby saving them the $105k county taxpayers paid to find and train that person. It just makes good business sense to recruit away talent from other agencies. But there's another reason you pay more.

You Attract Better Talent

If you were looking at two jobs of similar responsibility, but one pays $10,000 more per year than the other, which one would you apply for? Of course it would be the $10,000 higher paying one.

So when two employers are competing from the same applicant pool and one of them pays $10,000 more to start, which employer will get the better applicants?

This is how you run the numbers to articulate just how much being cheap is costing an organization, in this case county taxpayers, more over the long term. It is true in business that you sometimes have to spend your way out of a problem. Here's a case where spending a little more can save you a lot more in the long term. The result of this analysis has led to a new Sheriff's Office patrol pay matrix that is 3% below that of the Coeur d'Alene Police Department. I will monitor this moving forward.

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Thank you for reading my blog

Bruce E Mattare

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1 komentarz

Jason Deegan
Jason Deegan
02 wrz 2023

While I strongly believe we Americans are taxed far too greatly, I fully support paying our deputies. This is precisely the type of issue that confirms that we should all value real-world business management experience when choosing our elected officials. Save when you can, but be careful not to suffer hidden consequences.

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