Jefferson County Sheriff losing officers due to low pay, sheriff -

Jefferson County Sheriff losing officers due to low pay, sheriff's office says

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Jefferson County Sheriff. Credit: KMOV Jefferson County Sheriff. Credit: KMOV

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department says better pay at nearby law enforcement agencies is driving deputies to leave the department.

The recent passage of tax increases in various municipalities should surprise no one when it comes to pointing to a reason for so many departures. But the Jefferson County Sheriff thinks St. Louis County’s Prop P is just one thing working against him.

Sam Pastorello doesn't question his safety in Jefferson County or the work his county's sheriff's deputies do.

"They've always done a good job. They've always been courteous, kind and thorough," said Pastorello.

But, he's noticed a challenge.

"Sometimes, they are right there. Sometimes, they can't be there because there is not enough of them,' added Pastorello.

More than 230,000 people live in Jefferson County. Only 142 deputies serve the whole county.

Captain Gary Higginbotham tells News 4 not enough people want to wear his department's uniform and too many are leaving for other agencies.

"You know, I was fighting hundreds of people for my job when I started here. Now, we have almost more openings than we have applicants," said Captain Higginbotham.

His agency is down nine deputies including two who resigned in 2018.

The reason? Low pay.

"You can go live a mile on this side of the Meramec River and make $37,000 a year starting and go a mile on the other side of the river and start at $52,000, so it is common sense," added Captain Higginbotham.

Tony McGee gets it.

"I believe all law enforcement is underpaid. If it was my decision, everyone would be at $75,000 plus a year," said McGee.

Captain Higginbotham says his boss, Sheriff Dave Marshak, knows deputies are paying attention to salaries. With Prop P's passage last year, a lot of agencies still have not set specific pay scales, but will be doing so soon.

News 4 has compiled a list of officer salaries near Jefferson County. 

An officer could go to work for St. Louis City Police for a starting salary of $41,815. In St. Louis County, they would start at $52,208. One of the highest salaries is at $54,676 with St. Charles Police.

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