Collier County Sheriff’s Office requests bigger budget for salary increases

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A Collier County Sheriff’s deputy. Credit: WINK News

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a bigger budget to hire and increase the pay of the deputies it says it needs to patrol a growing community.

Housing costs and inflation are a few of the reasons CCSO says it needs a $4 million budget increase for deputy salaries and benefits in order to retain deputies who want to live and work in the county, as well as to recruit new deputies. Collier County neighbors tell WINK News they are concerned to hear that local law enforcement can’t afford to live in the county where they work.

CCSO’s day-to-day vacancies fluctuate, but its leaders say they would hire 20 deputies immediately if they could. Some Collier County residents who say they moved there because of how safe it is, like Louise and Julio Rodriguez, also said they would feel a lot safer if they could live next to the deputies meant to protect them.

“I’m concerned about the fact that they’re not getting enough money, because they should, because Naples prides itself on low crime,” Louise Rodriguez said.

“Especially since the population is expanding here right now, you really need people to be right where they work and where they live, all right?” Julio Rodriguez said. “And they’re more associated or connected with the community if they’re that way, so then you’re spending your money here, also.”

Earlier this month, Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said any vacancy concerns him because he wants effective law enforcement coverage in the county, which is why the CCSO had to ask Collier County commissioners to consider increasing CCSO’s budget immediately.

“Due to the current economic impact of the sharply escalating costs of living in Collier County, this amendment is necessary,” Rambosk said. “I had included the pay increase in our budget to begin October 1, however, this economic crisis makes it imperative that we act now to hire and retain the most knowledgeable, skilled and experienced law enforcement professionals and that they have the ability to live in the community they so bravely serve.”

“It’s what we consider a bridge to get us to our Oct. 1 upcoming budget; the sheriff saw the importance of what’s going on right now in the economy,” said Col. Jim Bloom with CCSO. “We need to have great men and women working in law enforcement and all of our public safety venues, but specifically in law enforcement. And in order to do that, both hire and retain, we are going to have to pay the men and women coming into this profession.”

Bloom also says that CCSO originally wanted to make changes to the budget in October – but Rambosk and command staff didn’t think they had enough time to wait until then. Collier County commissioners will consider the budget increase at a 9 a.m. meeting.

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