OPINION COLUMN: For Adams County Sheriff’s deputies, it’s all in a poorly-paid day’s work

Published 6:39 am Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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That’s the starting hourly wage for a new, inexperienced deputy in the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.


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That’s the starting hourly wage for a new, inexperienced guard in the Adams County Jail.


Those officers receive training, of course, before they are set out to do their jobs. And they are considered for modest, periodic wage increases.

But $16.01 an hour to put on a uniform, holster, gun, radio and body camera, then head out to a shift and not be certain you will make it home?

It must be a calling. That’s the only reason I can figure that law enforcement officers would risk what they do on a daily basis to keep others in their community safe.

Sunday was a tough day in Adams County. A family lost a brother, son, father. A woman suffered severe injury. Thankfully, reports are that she will recover.

Two Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies will live with the fact that a man came at them, gun blazing, and tried to end their lives. Imagine those seconds and minutes playing over and over in your mind.

One of our deputies will live for the rest of his life knowing he was forced to take the life of another man.

You can bet this event affected more than the two ACSO deputies involved in the shooting. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office is very much a family of individuals who work together in often-difficult circumstances, suffer frustrations together and celebrate successes together while serving this community. Two of their own were in peril and suffered trauma while doing their jobs Sunday. Same can be said of the closeness of the Natchez Police Department and most law enforcement agencies, in fact.

What are those jobs worth? We all have differing opinions about that.

Personally, I have a hard time knowing that the starting hourly wage at most Natchez fast food restaurants is more than what our jailers make, who go to work every day in a jail that all agree is woefully inadequate and unsafe for workers and inmates alike.

Credit the Adams County Board of Supervisors, who is well aware of the problem of wages of county workers in general, particularly in places like the county road department, where the work is hard and hot (or cold) and dirty and unrelenting.

Supervisors gave county workers an across the board 5 percent pay raise in 2021. And, supervisors have agreed they need to do more for all county employees.

Just about every industry, particularly the service industry, is having a difficult time attracting and keeping employees.

Still, $16.01 an hour as pay for a beginning sheriff’s deputy? I’m having a hard time with that.

I have no grand answer, no solution for better pay for law enforcement officers. I can only hope county leaders are double and triple checking every department budget with an eye toward cutting expenses and moving savings from that exercise into wages and salaries. I can only trust that is what is happening now during the county’s budget process.

Supervisor Kevin Wilson, who represents District 2, for many, many months has been urging his colleagues to use the windfall ARPA funds to pay down debt in an effort to free up money paid in interest, which Wilson equates with throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year of taxpayer funds into a trash can. That money saved in interest payments could go to bolstering wages of county employees who should be paid more.

Wilson has made a compelling case. Wilson, as many know, is self-made and one of the most successful, diversified businessmen in the county. He knows what he’s talking about. We would be wise to take a lesson from him. Even so, it seems paying down county debt is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

No one wants to pay more taxes. Most of us have a difficult time paying the taxes on our homes and property we pay now. Increasing taxes is not an answer.

Still, $16.01 an hour?

God bless our sheriff’s deputies who serve this community. Thank God for them. I Wish I had the answers and I wish we could do more.


Jan Griffey is community editor of The Natchez Democrat. Readers may reach her at 601-442-7355 or jan.griffey@natchezdemocrat.com.