Pennington County Commissioners discuss a 2 percent pay increase for law enforcement

(Pennington County Sheriff)
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 10:43 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - According to the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, talks for a 2 percent wage increase for law enforcement staff, correctional officers and detox technicians started back in July. Tuesday, that wage hike was approved by the Pennington County Commissioners.

For detox supervisors, that means roughly a $2.10 an hour increase according to the sheriff.

“Almost all of those positions are starting at a minimum of $20 an hour and our techs gap we’re starting at a little over $17 an hour,” said Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller.

The idea is to make wages more competitive. Wages in Western South Dakota are improving and recruitment and retention for public safety positions are too.

“Combined with the raises that the commission approved for overall for Pennington County at the beginning of 2024, we’re really in a pretty good position right now,” Mueller said.

A hard look at the jails and rehabilitation centers shows there is positive progress. The Pennington County jail commander, Rob Yantis, said he knows the staff could use the support.

“They’re working with people who are sometimes at the worst part of their lives, in our community and we want to make sure we have the right people who are guiding those folks back into our neighborhoods and our communities, and so we think this is a great step in acknowledging our staff,” Yantis said.

Mueller said six months ago they lacked 30 correctional officers, and increasing wages will help.

“We are on track to potentially be fully staffed in November, which is probably the first time in five years we’ve had staffing numbers that high,” Mueller said.

The next commissioners meeting will be Oct. 3 and raises within other law enforcement groups should be on the agenda.