ACSO announces historic raises

Alachua County Sheriff's Office admin building sign
Photo by Suzette Cook
Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr.
Courtesy of Alachua County Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) employees are receiving the largest raise in the department’s history.

According to an ACSO release on Thursday, the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be retroactive to October with previously approved funds.

The announcement came one week after the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) opted to give a one-time $2.7 million sum to the ASCO on Nov. 8. The funds were coupled with a 7% salary increase the BOCC approved in its 2022-23 budget for all county employees in September.

“I, with the support of my ACSO team, am pleased to announce the largest cost of living raise in the history of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office,” Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. said in a statement. “One of my top priorities has been to bring employees up to a living wage and to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

According to the release, all sworn employees will receive an 11.4% cost of living adjustment (COLA). The increase will bring annual entry-level salaries for deputy/correction officers to $47,023, which is more competitive with sheriff’s departments in surrounding counties.

“Inflation, salary compression, the increase in the federal minimum wage and State of Florida pay increases for smaller law enforcement agencies surrounding Alachua County, clearly made the need to raise the salaries of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office employees even more apparent,” Watson said in the release.

Watson added his goal remains to raise starting pay to $50,000 for deputy/correction officers and sworn personnel who had step increases this year will receive between a 13.9% and 15.4% raise.

The ACSO’s civilian and Combined Communications Center (CCC) personnel will receive a 10% COLA. The increase will bring the entry-level hourly rate for civilian positions to $16.50 per hour. With the COLA being in addition to the step increase, non-sworn personnel will receive a 10% to 12.5% raise, depending on their step.

“This historic milestone and needed pay raise will greatly benefit the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office in many ways,” Watson said. “Current employees will receive raises so richly deserved, retroactive to October 1, 2022, and dispersed faster than any previously given COLA: on November 23, 2022, to arrive in time for the holidays.

“Our recruitment efforts will also benefit, bringing relief to our employees as we become more competitive in our efforts to seek qualified new employees and raise employee retention rates for rewarding careers.”

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The question to ask is why so many employees have left ASO.