ORLANDO, FL — Orange County deputies said it’s time for them to make as much money as Orlando police. And now that the former Orlando police chief is the sheriff, they expect it.
Sheriff John Mina asked the county for a $267 million budget that would include hiring 52 new deputies.
But as WFTV investigative reporter Shannon Butler found out, a tentative offer on pay fell short and the union is calling it unacceptable.
For years, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has been struggling with deputy shortages. Part of the issue was pay.
Agencies like the Orlando Police Department pay thousands of dollars more in starting wages.
In July, Mina told the county he wanted to give his deputies more.
Right now, Orlando police officers make $48,276. The preliminary discussions at the bargaining table could bring Orange County deputies up to about $46,276.
But the sticking point could be what deputies who are already there get paid.
The numbers thrown out just aren’t good enough for the Fraternal Order of Police and retention is already an issue.
“I think we can do better, I think he expects better,” said union president Jeff Stinton. “I think the employees expect more of our leader. He is a great leader and a good sheriff, but we expect more than what came out of here today from you guys.”
Overall, crime is down about 7 percent in Orange County, but murders were up 31 percent last year and on the rise again this year.
Add that to a good economy and the union says there is no better time for a raise than now.
Talks at the table have been tense and this relationship between the deputies and their new sheriff could be decided at the bargaining table.
“I think this bargaining session will define him,” Stinton said. “We want to promote him and get everything we can out of this contract, but it needs to be a good contract, but he needs to show good faith here.”