Deputies to Harris County: Higher pay, better working conditions needed

New Text to 9-1-1 program now works for 31 9-1-1 call centers around Central Texas.

New Text to 9-1-1 program now works for 31 9-1-1 call centers around Central Texas.

The Harris County Deputies' Organization, a group representing Harris County deputies, has asked Commissioners Court for a raise, claiming the current pay scale is almost 25 percent less than that in other metropolitan areas of Texas.

However, the Harris County Budget Management office claims HCDO's information is incomplete and denies the claim that current salaries are a deterrent to new employees.

HCDO President David Cuevas sent a letter to Harris County Commissioners Court on July 28 requesting a pay increase for sheriff’s office deputies and improved working conditions for county detention officers. According to Cuevas’ letter, a Harris County deputy would need a 23.81 percent raise to receive the same pay as officers of the same rank in Dallas, Houston, Austin and other Texas police departments, including the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The starting salary for a Harris County sheriff’s office deputy is $44,862, while a Houston Police Department officer receives $51,318 after a probation period, Cuevas said in the letter.

In addition, Cuevas said detention officers in the county frequently work two or three overtime shifts a week and have insufficient parking. The budget department stated in its letter that a 520-space parking lot was provided by the county at a cost of $5 million, but Cuevas said he believes the lot lacks security and deputies are often the victims of motor vehicle burglary.

“We have the best employees that the county and the state has to offer, but when you are mentally and physically tired, you feel like the court is not supportive of law enforcement,” Cuevas said.

County response


The county budget department sent a letter to county commissioners Aug. 7 in response to Cuevas' letter compiling data on law enforcement salaries, officer retention and other points raised in the HCDO letter.

The budget office contends that officer compensation includes competitive health and retirement benefits and that the county has absorbed most health care cost increases.

Among the statements in the letter, the budget department also reports:

  • The number of positions in the sheriff’s and constables’ offices has increased by 1,000 since 2012, with average total salary increases during that time ranging from 20 to 30 percent.

  • Only 1 percent of deputies and only three sergeants have resigned in the last 12 months.

  • The total cost to implement the pay raise suggestions proposed by the HCDO would cost $62.1 million.

  • The cost to increase the base salary of starting deputies from $44,866 to $49,338 would be about $2 million.


Judith Marshall, director of agenda management in the county budget office, said Tuesday the Aug. 7 letter is the most recent correspondence from the office on the issue.

Cuevas said he believes the numbers provided by the budget management are misleading.

“It’s more than just our salary, it’s our working conditions and safety. And it’s important that we are competitive with our salary so we can hire the most qualified, competent personnel and that costs money,” Cuevas said. “You get what you pay for.”

The issue has not yet come before the Commissioners Court. As of Wednesday, an agenda for the next Commissioners Court meeting Aug. 22 had not yet been released.

Joe Stinebaker, director of communication for Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, said commissioners do not generally comment on proposals before they are formally presented.

“As a general matter of policy, Judge Emmett doesn’t comment in advance on whether he supports proposals that haven’t yet been presented to court members,” Stinebaker said. “The judge probably won’t have any comments until he’s seen the backup information on the financial impact.”
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


MOST RECENT

Montgomery County's COVID-19 recoveries sit at 8,403, according to the county health department. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
See Montgomery County's weekly COVID-19 case count for Oct. 13-19

The county has made progress on its backlog of cases initially reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services by health care providers.

Whitewater Express Car Wash will open its 18th location in late October in Porter. (Courtesy Whitewater Express Car Wash)
Whitewater Express Car Wash to open in Porter

The Porter location will be the franchise's 18th.

Houston police
Houston will spend $4.1 million from CARES Act to rein in rising crime rate

Violent crime is up 11% in the city of Houston and there are six hot spots throughout the city that are seeing the most violent crime numbers.

Voters wait in line at a Cy-Fair polling location Oct. 16. (Danica Lloyd/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County ballot totals approach 630,000 in first six days of early voting

Ballot counts have averaged about 100,000 daily. Twelve days of early voting remain before the Nov. 3 general election.

A total of 10 polling places are now open throughout the county for early voting. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 76,000 ballots cast in Montgomery County through first 5 days of early voting

While the total outpaces the count through the fifth day of early voting from previous general elections, the county's voter turnout percentage so far is lower than in 2012 and 2016.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and faith leaders
Houston coronavirus updates: Positivity rate hits 5%, places of worship get guidance for reopening

Churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship are recommend to limit gatherings to 25%.

Amazon's new sorting center is now open at 22525 Clay Road, Katy. The 800,000-square-foot building opened Oct. 9. (Courtesy Amazon.com Inc.)
Amazon center in Katy to bring 3K jobs and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

An election official directs a car to a spot at the Humble Civic Center's drive-thru voting location. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Drive-thru voting locations in Harris County see greater numbers than in-person, despite challenges

More than 42,000 residents in Harris County have used the drive-thru centers so far in early voting.

The outlet mall is located in Cypress. (Courtesy Houston Premium Outlets)
Outlet mall in Cy-Fair opens 3 new stores and more top Houston-area news

Read the most popular news form the past week from our Houston coverage area.