Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputies no longer are required to live in the county.
In addition, the Sheriff’s Office take-home vehicle privileges have expanded 10 miles past the county line.
Sheriff Dave Marshak signed off on the policy changes on Dec. 5.
Marshak said the residency requirement was designed to provide better policing but has dissuaded some candidates from applying to work for the Sheriff’s Office.
“The philosophy is if you live within the community, you are more apt to police it in a community-partnership way,” he said. “(But), we cannot be shortsighted when it comes to recruitment and retention, so we must enhance our incentives to work for one of the busiest organizations in the region.
“The taxpayer costs associated with this adjustment are minimal and barely measurable, but increase the opportunities for qualified candidates to finally make the transition to our organization.”
Marshak said the policy that required deputies to live inside the county’s 664 square miles has been in place since at least 1994, when he joined the organization, and possibly longer than that.
“You had to move within the county within six months of being hired,” Marshak said. He said deputies could receive a waiver from the sheriff to live outside Jefferson County and work for the department. However, he said some candidates would not apply to work at the Sheriff’s Office because they were not sure they would be able to obtain the waiver and then be forced to move into the county.
Marshak said the Sheriff’s Office currently employs 170 deputies, and five of them live outside the county.
He said the Sheriff’s Office also has 83 non-commissioned employees, who have never been required to live in the county.
Marshak said the Sheriff’s Office currently has six vacant deputy positions, and that number is expected to climb to 13 because of scheduled retirements and new positions expected to be added in this year’s budget.
Deputies currently receive a starting salary of $50,300, and after one year, that increases to $55,500 annually, Marshak said.
Along with helping recruit candidates, Marshak said the policy change could combat deputies leaving the department for defense mapping positions with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which has a location at 3838 Vogel Road in Arnold and is building a $1.75-billion facility at Jefferson and Cass avenues in St. Louis.
“The recruiting changes and availability of positions as defense mapping expands is going to further impact local law enforcement retention,” Marshak said. “I just had an officer turn in his resignation to go to defense mapping. They are hiring and have changed their standards. I don’t know how many people they are going to hire from the St. Louis area, but historically, we have lost a number of people to defense mapping.”
Allowing deputies to take their department-issued vehicles home, if they live within 10 miles of Jefferson County, will have minimal impact on the amount of gas the Sheriff’s Office will have to pay for, Marshak said.
He said Sheriff’s Office vehicles average between 25,000 and 30,000 miles per year.
Of the five current deputies who live outside of Jefferson County, only three live within the 10-mile radius that allows for a vehicle to be taken out of the county, Marshak added.
He said the deputies who have take-home vehicle privileges are assigned to road patrol, investigations or special operations. He said he wasn’t sure of the number of deputies who take home vehicles.