TYLER, Texas (KETK) – All Smith County law enforcement has been approved for pay raises on Tuesday, which Sheriff Larry Smith and Judge Nathaniel Moran hope will help address a massive staffing shortage.

The two held a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the county commissioner’s courtroom. Moran said while other areas of the country are “looking to defund police,” Smith County would “refund our law enforcement.”

For instance, the starting salary of a detention officer in the county jail would rise from $33,620 to $41,500. This equates to nearly a 25% pay raise. The sheriff said that it also means the raises will make the county more competitive not just with other law enforcement agencies, but with the private sector as well.

Smith said that the pandemic has wreaked havoc on his staff, particularly in the jail. There are currently 42 openings for detention officers while an additional 18 are currently in quarantine due to the virus.

He stated that means roughly one-third of his staff is missing and that he is pulling from several other departments from around the area to make ends meet.

The process for hiring new officers has also been expedited to allow for more positions to be filled.

Moran said that the county “is putting our money where our mouth is” by unanimously approving the raises. He stated that the theme for the 2022 budget was “In the Blue.”

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