Cherokee County sheriff pushes for higher pay for deputies, corrections officers

Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Muller will speak to county council about funding for sheriff's office. (FOX Carolina/ December 2, 2019)

CHEROKEE COUNTY, SC (FOX Carolina) When Lt. Kenneth Sibley gets into his cruiser he never knows what to expect.

“I’ve been in law enforcement now a little over 20 years," Sibley said.

He's worked with other agencies and says he's grateful for his job with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office.

“I really enjoy working here in Cherokee County," he said.

However, it can be dangerous. There are shootings, robberies, and homicides.

“I’ve been involved in saving lives and I’ve been involved in a fatal shooting," Sibley said.

Doctors recently diagnosed him PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition suffered by those who have experienced a traumatic event. Sibley says the job brings a lot of stress and little money.

“None of us get into this job to be rich. We’re not able to pay our bills and it forces us to work a lot of side jobs," he said.

However, Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller says the lack of pay is a safety issue in the county and he's losing deputies.

“Right now there’s nothing from preventing folks from driving a county over," Mueller said.

During a county council meeting he asked members to increase pay for deputies and corrections officers.

“Out of 46 sheriff’s offices, we’re in the bottom 5 when it comes to pay for our officers," Mueller said.“We lost five people in a two-week period out of our detention center and every one of them left for higher paying jobs.”

He says right now the county is working on a $19 million budget and uses a little more than $7 million of it to pay all county employees.

"There are some counties paying $8, $9, $10 million salaries. Even here locally, Blacksburg is a small town they up their pay to $18.95 an hour just recently and we’re at $16.54 and hour," Muller said.

Therefore, he's asking for a $2.50 increase to keep officers like Sibley in Cherokee County and to keep communities safe.

“It’s more than just a job to me, its a calling," Sibley said.

Copyright 2019 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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