‘We’re losing employees to Amazon’: Shelby County Sheriff talks retention at crime commission meeting

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 9:21 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - One day after Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced the city is looking to bring back the 1978 pension plan for first responders, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner is talking about retention at the Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re losing employees just to Amazon because of our pension plan,” Bonner said.

Bonner says 201 Poplar is currently short by 334 correctional officers.

The office is also looking to fill 92 deputy vacancies and nine dispatcher positions.

“We don’t know what the answer is,” Bonner said. “We’re throwing money at it just like our partners at the Memphis Police Department. I’ll just be quite frank with you, it is really not moving the needle.”

Bonner said salaries for correctional officers start at $43,000 and can reach up to $55,000 in a few years.

Shelby County Commissioner Amber Mills has been working with the Sheriff’s Office, advocating to improve the pension plan.

She expects the topic to be brought up at the county commission soon.

“I’m getting to know my new fellow commissioners and I’m hoping they are more friendly to law enforcement than the last body was,” Mills said. “Yes, I think this body will be more motivated to help law enforcement.”

Many of those who showed up for Thursday’s meeting wanted to hear about efforts to prevent juvenile crime.

An administrator with the city’s Group Violence Intervention Program says they’ve been partnering with Memphis-Shelby County Schools security to identify youth who are choosing a life of crime and reach out to their families.

But some wanted to hear more from those working directly with the juvenile court.

“What is going to be done, if anything, to reform the juvenile point system to hold them more accountable for their actions?” one person asked.

Newly sworn-in Juvenile Court Judge Tarik Sugarmon was not on Thursday night’s panel.

“We really felt that Judge Sugarmon ought to have a little bit more time in office before we put him on the spot in a forum like this,” said Bill Gibbons, president of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.

The crime commission says they plan to discuss juvenile crime in a meeting in November.

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