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Local sheriff expresses concerns about law enforcement officer pay

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Madison County Sheriff Katy McCutcheon

Madison County Sheriff Katy McCutcheon compared pay at Fredericktown Police Department and Madison County Sheriff's Department.

Madison County Sheriff Katy McCutcheon recently expressed concerns about starting pay for law enforcement officers and about information provided in a Fredericktown Police Department Facebook post regarding the starting pay for a police officer for the City of Fredericktown.

In a letter she sent to Mayor Kelly Korokis, City Administrator James Settle and the Fredericktown Board of Aldermen, McCutcheon gave a full comparison of city and county law enforcement. 

"The information in question is the starting pay for a police officer for the City of Fredericktown which was posted to be $13.50," McCutcheon said. "I question this information simply for the fact that the starting pay for a road deputy for the Madison County Sheriff's Office is $14.45. In the past I have attempted to hire qualified candidates for a starting road deputy position and was told by those qualified candidates that they could make more money per hour with a third less the responsibilities of a deputy sheriff."

McCutcheon said on Jan. 4, she submitted a Sunshine Law request to the City of Fredericktown asking for the hire date, starting hourly wage, and current hourly wage for all current officers for the City of Fredericktown Police Department. She said she did this to help answer her question regarding starting pay of a police officer for budgetary purposes.

"Historically it is known that a municipality’s police department wages are more than the wages of a county sheriff’s office, but I was astonished to say the least to see the major difference in pay, not only between the Chief of Police and myself but the pay difference with the officers," McCutcheon said. "The information I received showed the Chief of Police’s annual salary as $75,296 versus mine at $49,712; the highest paid city officer has an hourly wage of $21.72 versus my highest paid deputy at $16.51 an hour. The lowest paid officer has an hourly wage of $15.95 versus my lowest paid deputy at $14.45 an hour. I also noticed that an officer with nine months of experience is making $16.17. It was also astonishing to see that the Chief of Police has received a $30,000 increase in annual wages since he started 10.5 years ago."

McCutcheon went on to say the difference in wages between the police department and the sheriff's office has been detrimental to her office and staff. She said on occasions the wage difference has caused her to cover shifts on both the road and jail while trying to hire qualified candidates to fill open road deputy positions.

"I was just fortunate to find men and women that live here in this county, that have either been raised here or have made this county their home," McCutcheon said. "They chose to take the decrease in pay for the sheer fact that they wanted to work in the county that their family and friends live in, so they could help make it a better place to live."

McCutcheon said the reason she has not advocated for her deputies and put an increase in tax on the ballot is because her first chance to do so was in 2018 when Prop P was on the ballot. 

"It should be noted that I feel information was also misrepresented during the Prop P campaign due to the fact that I got several congratulatory texts, calls, and wishes after it passed because people thought Prop P was to benefit first responder’s county-wide and were aggravated once they found out only Fredericktown City Police and Fire would benefit from the tax," McCutcheon said. "The next chance would have been 2020 when the Madison County Ambulance District was put on the ballot. The next chance would have been this year but Cherokee Pass Fire Department (is) trying to become a district and will be on this year’s ballot."

McCutcheon said instead of going for a tax, she has been working with the same budget that Sheriff David Lewis worked with 20 years ago. She said she does apply for a Deputy Supplemental Salary Grant which is not guaranteed every year but does help give each full-time deputy an additional $100 per month as long as the required paperwork is filled out.

"This extra $100 brings the highest paid deputy's hourly wage to $17.14 and the lowest paid deputy's hourly wage to $15.08," McCutcheon said. "This correspondence is in no way a means of any disrespect to the City of Fredericktown or any of its departments, nor any disrespect for police officers to receive pay raises and make higher wages. This correspondence is simply to show the concern of what I feel has been misrepresented information."

McCutcheon included a comparison chart with the letter showing the differences in coverage area, population, number of officers/deputies, yearly budget, responsibilities and wages, comparing the Madison County Sheriff's Department with the Fredericktown Police Department. 

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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