Maryville (WVLT) - Most of us know police officers who have to work two jobs to support their loved ones. In Blount County, if you're a deputy with a family, your pay puts you at the poverty line.
Volunteer TV's Gary Loe compares law enforcement salaries and reports what's being done to to equalize pay among the various agencies.
Patrolman Donnie Carroll has worked 3 years for the Maryville Police Department. Without revealing his salary, he earns as much as Blount County Deputies who have twice his job experience.
"Those guys are sometimes doing more of a work load than we are, and their pay scale needs to increase," Carroll said.
The Blount County Sheriff's Office has not had an increase in starting pay since 1999.
"Blount County's way behind," Blount County Lieutenant Tony Rayburn said.
Lieutenant Tony Rayburn's worked 20 years as a deputy. Rookie officers at both Maryville and Alcoa Police Departments make about what he does.
"We expect a fair wage for what we do for a living, not anything more, not anything less," Rayburn said.
Blount deputies annual minimum pay is just more than $23,000. In contrast, Alcoa starts officers at about $28,250, a difference of more than $5,000.
The maximum pay for Blount deputies is $35,000, while Alcoa officers top out at nearly $51,000. A difference of $16,000.
Since July, more than 50 deputies have left Blount County and replacing them is difficult.
"They look at us and say, 'we can't work for that,'" Rayburn said.
The Fraternal Order of Police held a cookout to raise awareness of the pay issue.
"I think they deserve to be compensated justly. I think their pay is just, it's embarrassing," Blount County resident Martha McCampbell said.
On Monday, Sheriff Jim Berrong will ask Blount County Commissioners for more. His proposed budget includes an additional $2.2 million in added deputy pay and benefits.
In the meantime, State Representative Joe McCord of Maryville has introduced legislation that would provide law enforcement agencies throughout the state with equal pay.
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