Two of the county’s services most helpful to the citizens of our community are having trouble finding qualified personnel, in most part due to low wages offered comparable to other area agencies.
Both the Logan County Sheriff’s Department and the county’s Emergency Communications Center (ECC/911) are searching for employees, but are finding it difficult to get them and to keep them.
“I’m down three deputies,” said Sheriff Wallace Whittaker. “We are accepting applications, but we aren’t getting many. Qualified applicants are hard to find.”
Ginger Lawrence, who serves as director for the ECC, said she is four down in her department, and is experiencing what the sheriff is with a lack of interest.
“I don’t think a lot people know what the job entails,” Lawrence said. “We work long hours, weekends, holidays, basically 24-7. But our biggest problem is wages. It’s hard to find someone to work the shifts we work for the pay we get.”
Both deputies and dispatchers in Logan County are paid a lot less per hour then neighboring agencies. This, said Lawrence and Whittaker is a big deterrent.
“For the lack of a better word, you get what you pay for,” said Lawrence, adding that every once in a while she gets good qualified people, like the ones working at the center now. However, she is always afraid of losing them because other agencies offer more pay.
“I cannot say enough about the quality of dispatchers we have here at the ECC now,” said Lawrence. “But I always worry they will leave as soon as they find a higher paying job doing what they do for Logan County.”
Both Whittaker and Lawrence send their employees for extensive training. A contract keeps the employees working for Logan County for two years, but according to Lawrence, after their time is up, they seem to always leave with that paid training to benefit another agency.
“It’s really frustrating to say the least,” said Lawrence, who shares her responsibilities between being director and being a dispatcher.
“We are low on dispatchers. We do what we have to to make it work. But we are not where we should be as far as employees,” Lawrence said. This hurts the ECC because the job of dispatcher suffers from burnout and when you have to cover for missing personnel, it makes it that much worse.
Lawrence said when she accepts applications she may get a stack of them, however, after she combs through them for qualifications, the stack becomes a pile and then the pile becomes a few.
The last substantial pay increase the ECC had was three years ago, said the director. If you get hired as a dispatcher at the Logan County ECC your start-up pay now is $10 an hour with an increase to $11.25 per hour after certification.
There are currently 10 full-time and one part-time employees at the ECC. This includes the director and assistant director.
“I think if the wages increased for dispatchers and deputies, this would go along way to hiring qualified employees and retaining them,” said Lawrence.
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.