Our view: An easy fix: Pay Grand Forks County deputies what they’re worth

We’re glad to see action being taken to decrease the disparity in wages between local law enforcement agencies.

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A troubling gap that existed in pay for new local law enforcement officers is being remedied. It sounds like it was an issue that needed fixing for some time, but a recent conversation among Grand Forks County leaders has prompted movement on the issue.

On Tuesday, May 2, the Grand Forks County Commission unanimously approved a request from Sheriff Andrew Schneider to boost salaries by the end of 2023. As of July 1, salaries will increase for county deputies; patrol deputies, for instance, will see a $10,000 increase.

“I’ve been bringing this up since 2021,” Schneider said during the commission meeting that day. “I anticipate advertising our deputy openings. I’ve been putting off a couple of them for an extended period of time trying to figure out what salary level we’d be advertising at.”

Responded County Commission member Bob Rost, a former Grand Forks County sheriff: “I don’t think the county has ever addressed it, even before I was a commissioner.”

So, it’s well past time to get this figured out, and we’re glad to see action being taken to decrease the disparity in wages between local law enforcement agencies.


A report in the Herald over the weekend showed that the current salary of a new county patrol deputy is around $49,600, while new officers at the Grand Forks Police Department earn around $62,500 to $64,000. If city police officers earn a raise during the coming budget cycle, the gap will increase even further.

In East Grand Forks, new officers earn from $58,026 to $75,436, although it’s rare to see new officers hit that ceiling, according to Chief of Police Michael Hedlund. East Grand Forks has a $5,000 hiring bonus for new officers, as well.

And Polk County starts its new patrol deputies within a range of $53,200 to $69,492.

This isn’t an issue of what other officers earn in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. We’re all for getting local officers in all of the Greater Grand Forks agencies whatever they can get, because we know finding officers is becoming increasingly difficult. Without good, competitive pay, vacancies will only be harder to fill. Those vacancies will then add stress to the officers who are on staff. Turnover will increase. Policing in our community will suffer.

But to see Grand Forks County deputies lagging the other agencies stings a bit – not only because it hinders the ability to hire new deputies, but because that low starting wage will keep even the experienced deputies from reaching a higher earning potential. That, in turn, will prompt more turnover.

The way to escape that circle? Pay the deputies what they’re worth, based on market value. The market, in this case, consists of the other nearby agencies.

Good for Sheriff Schneider for staying on top of this issue and working to fix the disparity. Same for the commission members who voted for the raises.

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