Last week, I resigned from the office of the Lee County Sheriff. On Friday, my attorney and spokesman, Stu Pepper, informed all of you I had some opportunities ahead. He also told you that I was considering running for public office in Lee County.
His statement was vague, so allow me to clear it up. I am seriously considering running for Lee County Sheriff.
I have not made my mind up yet.
The reasons I resigned are several-fold. I was discontent to belong to an office where the deputies are so unappreciated.
For years now, deputies in general have not received a raise. As with the rest of the nation, deputies are faced with tough economic times. They face foreclosures, bankrupcies, and short-sales. Trying financial times lead to other maladies such as divorce, alimony and child support.
Law enforcement has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation, and certainely this does not need to be compounded with further financial stress. I had hoped for better with the possibility of the Union (which did not effect me, personally, as a Sergeant). I noted that under PBA contracts, agencies such as Hendry County Sheriff's Office, the Fort Myers Police Department, and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office all enjoy in some manner appropriate pay, step plans, shift differential pay, and holiday pay. I had expected the same for the employees, corporal and below, of the Lee County Office of the Sheriff.
Iif I were to run for sheriff, you can guarantee that one of my very top priorities regarding the deputies would be to ensure they receive yearly raises. It is my oath to them.
Despite the fact front-line deputies have not received a raise for years now, the office intends to take money from them known as longevity pay. Longevity pay was idealized first under the John McDougall administration in an effort to attack pay compression (where new deputies were making more than veteran deputies). However, Rod Shoap inplemented it as a means to allow deputies who chose to remain in patrol or as a detective (as opposed to climbing the supervisory ladder) to not be fiscally penalized for chosing to remain in their field. Shoap permitted the deputies to receive a COLA (cost of living allowance) increase even though they were at the salary cap for their pay grade. This was awarded to deputies who stayed in their chosen lower-paying position at the highest salary cap, in effect, awarding their "longevity" for that position. The office of the Sheriff is now removing that pay.
Some deputies have been receiving longevity pay since about 2002, when then-Sheriff Shoap implemented the program.