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Pierce County Council approves retention bonuses for deputies

The department is looking to avoid new vacancies as it works to fill 50 positions.

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash — In an effort to maintain staffing levels, Pierce County Council voted to approve $4 million to help retain and recruit deputies.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department (PCSD) said the money will fund a $10,000 retention bonus for current deputies. The department is currently working to fill 50 full-time vacancies.

"We've been losing deputies to other agencies, and the more people that we lose, the less service we can provide," said PCSD Sergeant Darren Moss.

Moss said the open positions forced the department to cut the size of the Central Patrol District, which covers areas like Puyallup, Spanaway and Graham.

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In February, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier sent a letter to the county council asking for a $10,00 retention incentive for PCSD deputies.

Moss said the council's action sends a clear message.

"Just letting our people know that they're wanted that the community and the council, and everybody wants them to stay here,” said Moss. “That we need them here in Pierce County.”

The county adjusted $20 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. Half went to the county's general fund, while the other half was broken into other needs, including the $4 million to fund the $10,000 retention bonuses.

"It's a bonus to tell people to hang in there and stick with the department because we're valued here," said Moss.

In a statement, District 7 Council Chair Derek Young acknowledged this was an investment in the department, but it doesn't solve the hiring problem.

"Sadly, it doesn't change anything in the need to increase the number of deputies filling the department's vacancies,” said Young. “To compete in this market, we need to step up substantially.”

Currently, lateral hires to the PCSD are being offered a $15,000 bonus.

It's unclear when the retention bonus will be paid out, or whether there will be any requirements to receive the bonus. Moss said the county and deputy's union are currently in contract negotiations.

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