Sheriff offering signing bonuses

The Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office is seeking certified law enforcement officers and is willing to pay $3,000 to get them.

Rather than hiring uncertified candidates and spending about $25,000 to train them, the sheriff’s office would prefer to select officers who can hit the ground running.

To that end, the sheriff’s office asked the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors Wednesday afternoon (March 2) for permission to pay $3,000 signing bonuses to certified candidates. The bonuses ought to save taxpayers several thousand dollars by sparing the county the cost of training recruits, said Captain Von Hill.

The deputies would sign a contract stipulating that if they were to leave for another law enforcement agency within three years of their hiring date, they would pay back all or a portion of the bonus.

The bonuses will come out of existing training funds in the sheriff’s budget, said Hill, and are the first step in an incentive program that the sheriff’s office wants to implement.

“We would like to hold onto our officers – both the ones we currently have and the ones we’d like to get,” Hill said.

As often happens in Fluvanna, employees build up training and skills working in the county, then depart for better-paying jobs elsewhere. Other areas are “poaching” off of Fluvanna law enforcement, said County Attorney Fred Payne.

“We invest in people in our agency,” said Hill. “They come, get training from our agency, then feel free to move on somewhere else. We become a training ground.”

Hill said that some Fluvanna deputies have approached him to ask whether their office has an incentive program to rival the ones they’ve heard of elsewhere. Deputies are starting to wonder about switching localities, Hill said.

Supervisors approved the bonus plan unanimously.

Next year the sheriff’s office hopes to give $5,000 bonuses to full-time officers with six or more years of experience.

Hill also asked for $11,290 to raise the salaries of five deputies. “Currently, we have five experienced deputies that earn less than a new…deputy,” said Hill. The sheriff’s office wants the employees it already has to make as much as a new hire would.

In other business, supervisors discussed creating a capital depreciation fund through which they could save for future capital needs. Wayne Stephens, public works director, saw the fund as a way to stabilize the tax rate. Rather than waiting for a hefty repair, he said, supervisors could put away a smaller, more predictable amount of money each year.