Former Deputy: Pay Wasn’t Enough to Live On

By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief
By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief

Maryville, Blount County (WVLT) - Blount County’s Sheriff says discrepancies in pay with neighboring departments has caused him to lose many deputies as the county commission considers his request for pay increases.

WVLT Volunteer TV’s Stephen McLamb sat down with a former deputy and his wife who tells Volunteer TV about his passion for law enforcement, how he left because of pay, and how his decision has left a void in his life even today.

"And the hardest thing I had to do was write out a resignation letter,” Allen Latham once served as a Blount County Sheriff's Deputy but gave it up eleven months ago because of pay.

He joined as a single guy with a passion for public service. "You felt if I'm there, I'm making a difference. I'm trying to make a difference in whoever I come in contact with."

But Allen met and later married Lisa, who also worked in the sheriff's office, both single parents with children and now one of their own.

"We decided we wanted to buy a house and that's when things got tricky,” says Allen.

As time passed, the happy couple found times much more financially difficult after cutting back all the extras.

"It was constant,” says Lisa. “Well, this bill is due. Well, how much is in the checkbook?"

So Allen got a second job.

"Come home and go to bed, just crash. Wake up the next morning. Do it again,” Allen says.

Finally in mid 2006, Allen couldn't take it anymore "and I told my wife, I said, I've got to do something else."

So he turned in his resignation.

"It was really hard to see him walk away from something he loved because of money,” Lisa says.

So Allen left the Sheriff's Department for another higher paying job. "I can take the kids to DollyWood or we can buy things at Wal-Mart. It's different."

But Allen wishes the money was in the job he loved. "If somebody were to give me a uniform and things right now, I'd be out the door.”

Lisa Latham says they've discussed the situation with many other deputies and their families who have second jobs to make ends meet. She says she doesn't know how they do it.

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