3/18/2014 1:39:00 PM Board denies Sheriff's request to hire deputies
By Tara Lindquist
An ongoing request by Sheriff Jim Jensen to hire three new full-time deputies was voted down on Tuesday, March 11 by the Dodge County Board of Commissioners.
Jensen first approached the commissioners last year to request three full-time deputies. The request was initially voted down because of budget concerns by the board. Jensen again returned to the board to show the commissioners that the request would fit into his budget for 2014. The board tabled the decision at that time to wait for the empty seat on the board to be filled.
During Tuesday's meeting Jensen explained to the board that since he initially brought the request to the board he has had some part-time deputies leave the sheriff's department for full-time positions in other counties. "It leaves me with three part-time people that can fill shifts on a regular basis," Jensen explained. "I have two part-time people that work in other departments on a full-time basis so they are only able to do one or two shifts a month." He told the board he is using the three part-time deputes on a rotating basis to fill shifts.
Commissioner John Allen asked Jensen why he hasn't been hiring part-time deputies. Jensen explained to the board that he would like to get away from hiring part-time deputies because it is a long process to train them and he feels part-time helps creates a "revolving door" issue at the sheriff's department. "A lot of the officers want full-time work," he said. "So when they find a position in another department they leave their part-time position." Jensen also explained that hiring part-time deputies is costly to the department because of the money it takes to train a new officer.
Commissioner Allen told Jensen having a revolving door of employees shouldn't be a shock, younger people don't stay in their jobs for as long as they did a generation before and the smaller departments are often used as a stepping stone to move up to a larger department. "I like hiring part-time employees," Allen said.
In a memo to the Commissioners Jensen pointed out he has saved the county money every year since he took office. Commissioner Rod Peterson spoke out against that claim stating his savings from the budget comes from extra money that was put into the budget. "I want to be clear about your claim about savings," Peterson said. "Your costs have been the same, I went through the budget for the past five years, yours have stayed the same other than the year the ARMOR radio switch came into effect and extra money was spent in that area. The surplus comes from that ARMOR project being added into the budget."
Commissioner Dave Erickson spoke in favor of hiring the three full-time deputies citing a growing population and the need and the safety of Dodge County residents outweighs the increased cost of hiring three full-time employees.
At the end of the discussion the motion to hire the three full-time deputies was voted down in a 3-2 vote. Commissioners John Allen, Tim Tjosaas and Rod Peterson voted no and Dave Erickson and Steven Gray voted in favor.
Jensen had removed the request to fill the open chief deputy position at this time.
After the meeting, Jensen said he removed that item because as of right now he does not have a person in mind on who he wants to be his chief deputy. "I will make that decision sometime between now and when I retire," he said.
Jensen also stated he will begin to hire part-time employees now that the commissioners have made their decision. "They made it perfectly clear, they don't like hiring full-time employees," Jensen said.