MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - After the long debated issue regarding law enforcement pay, Berkeley council members unanimously approved a pay raise for law enforcement deputies.
Sheriff Curtis Keller says he worked out a $5,500 temporary supplement for each officer, which would take place over five pay periods until the end of June.
"The biggest thing is to keep good qualified dedicated individuals. Now hopefully we can keep them in Berkeley County and have them serve the people of Berkeley County," said Chief Deputy David Wilson, Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.
Officials say in 2012, a pay raise was proposed but never implemented. Now there are guaranteed steps. The pay raise will depend on a sheriff's rank, time and service.
"A standard deputy would come in at $40,796 and he could get 20 years and never increase from that. Now he has the ability to go up above $50,000 so he sees that and knows he has the ability to take care of himself and take care of his family," said Chief Wilson.
"I think the committee and the council respects the deputies and they know it now. And I think they respect us," said Douglas Copenhaver, Berkeley County Council President.
There will be a program set up by a computer system that will immediately notify when each deputy reaches the next level for the change in compensation. Currently, the department has 56 sheriff's deputies, and the pay raise will go to all of them. The sheriff's department currently has vacant spots, and they hope Thursday's vote will help recruit more members as well as keep qualified officers in the county.
"They've worked hard. They've deserved this. We had a long real struggle. When you've had a deputy that's worked 15 years, he's working the same payment as someone you bring in and today you see them get the compensation for what they got. They know they are appreciated and they're going to be awarded for their work. It is a victory," said Chief Wilson.
Officials say deputies should see a pay increase by June 15.