The Scotts Bluff County Board this week agreed to contract language that would be used if and when the Sheriff’s Office would provide shift coverage to help make up for a shortage in the number of police officers in a community.
Under the plan, a city asking for shift coverage would be charged the deputy’s hourly rate, an additional 39 percent of that rate to account for the deputy’s benefits, plus $20 per hour for use of a Sheriff’s patrol unit. The total minimum hourly cost for such coverage would be just over $50 an hour for patrols by a first-year deputy, with the rate increasing based on the deputy’s current pay rate.
The issue was brought to light earlier in the fall, when Minatare Police Chief Jared Shepard approached the Sheriff’s Office to find out what the cost would be to cover any shortages in shift coverage in that community.
How and when a city would be charged was discussed by Board members, Management Accountant Lisa Rien and Chief Deputy Troy Brown. “If they call and ask to cover a shift, they don’t have anybody for eight hours, it wouldn’t be under 50 (dollars an hour), and we’ll bill them,” said Brown. Lisa Rein then asked if deputies are called to the community, would they bill. “If it’s an emergency call, or we’re helping a Minatare officer out, no,” replied Brown.
Chair Ken Meyers elaborated further, saying “If he’s got a homicide, he’s got something there (requiring assistance from) the State Patrol, the Sheriff’s Department, everybody else is responding. Nobody’s getting billed for that at this time, I think that’s the point we’re trying to make.”
Cities are required to provide their own law enforcement coverage under state law, while Sheriff’s offices provide occasional patrols in villages at no additional cost.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story indicated the approved document was a direct contract with the City of Minatare, as those were the terms used during deliberation of the contract language. KNEB News regrets the error.