Sheriff objects to candidate’s comment on deputy pay

In a recent newspaper article, Aberdeen councilman Frank Gordon was quoted as saying Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office employees have been given “excessive raises” at a time when other employees were being asked to cut their wages. I would like to respond to Mr. Gordon’s comments.

Each deputy patrols between 300 and 500 square miles during their tour of duty. Back up for those deputies may be 10 or 15 minutes away. To prevent others from being hurt we are often compelled to go into dangerous situations knowing that help is a long way away.

From a high of 88 people in 1998, we are now providing services with 74 people in 2012. Severe budget cuts have been the order of the day, especially over the last three to four years. During that time the three unions at the Sheriff’s Office have voluntarily taken benefit cuts, reductions in time off, have taken multi-year wage freezes, and have suffered furloughs in order to save the jobs of those with less seniority. I am honored to work with such people.

The sacrifices made by employees at the Sheriff’s Office easily exceed a half a million dollars. Mr. Gordon denigrates these employees and the sacrifices they made by saying they are given excessive raises when other employees were asked to cut their wages.

A top-step Grays Harbor Sheriff’s deputy makes $5,224 per month, behind Hoquiam at $5,400 per month and Aberdeen at $5,869 per month. If Aberdeen City Councilman Frank Gordon considers the deputy sheriff wage of $5,224 per month to be excessive, does he also consider the Aberdeen patrolman wage of $5,869 to be excessive?

Michael J. Whelan, Sheriff

Grays Harbor County