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To Fight High Rate of Turnover, Kenton Co. Jail Deputies to Receive Raise

Deputies at the Kenton County Detention Center will soon be taking home more pay.

Jailer Terry Carl's request for pay raises for deputies was approved at Tuesday evening's meeting of the Kenton County Fiscal Court.

The process took two years to reach a formula that would work for the county, which pays its employees at a rate lower than all surrounding counties. Carl said the jail routinely loses current deputies and potential applicants to other jails that pay higher wages.

"The trouble nowadays is most of my deputies are leaving due to pay. You have to terminate some, but most are due to pay," said Carl, in his fifth 4-year term. "When Campbell County raised theirs to $15 an hour, I lost five people to them. It hurts and right now we just can't hire anybody because the workforce is so hard to approach at that level of pay."

Starting pay for deputies in Kenton County was raised last year after stalling at $12 an hour for five years, county treasurer Roy Cox explained. "We still find there is quite a bit of turnover at the jail among the deputies," Cox said. "One of the principal reasons is pay. We are the lowest by far of the three counties." Cox was referring to the superior starting pay in Boone and Campbell Counties. 

Under the proposal adopted Tuesday evening in Independence, starting pay for Kenton deputies would increase to $14.0, the same as Boone. The increase would include an annual cost of living raise, too. For each year of service, a deputy's pay would also increase 2%, capped at ten years and an hourly wage of $17.44.

As of the 2014-15 fiscal year, the jail saw an average loss of four employees every month. Over the full fiscal year, 51 new employees were hired, 52 employees were terminated or resigned, 30 of whom cited pay as their reason for leaving. 

"They have to deal with hardened criminals and have to fight with them all the time, and get into confrontations constantly," Carl said. "We also have to be doctors and evaluate them as far as their mental health status and have to recognize drug use. There are so many things we have to do. Basically, I require a lot of these deputies and it is very stressful. I am making a 150% effort, posting on Craigslist, at Gateway (Community & Technical College), Beckfield (College), Indiana Wesleyan, NKU."

In the most recent round of job postings, Carl reported that his opportunities saw 2,283 views resulting in 212 requests for applications.  Fifteen received applications and from that pool, three were hired.

"The goal is to look back in a year or two and see that we have reduced turnover," said Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann. The Fiscal Court approved the pay increase 4-0.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: Kenton Co. Detention Center (RCN)

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