Winneshiek County deputies seek market adjustment raises

By Zach Jensen,

Fewer qualified candidates are applying for and keeping law enforcement jobs across the country. And, that national trend has a trickle-down effect, meaning law enforcement agencies at the local, state and national levels are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to attract new officers and deputies. 

Through an email shared with Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors members last week, the Winneshiek County Deputies Union has requested raises for all the county’s deputies in order to remain competitive. When the current contract was negotiated in 2022, the board agreed to revisit wages and look at adjustments if they fell out of line with the market during the course of the contract. 

Winneshiek County Sheriff Dan Marx presented that request, on behalf his deputies, to the Board of Supervisors during its regular meeting Monday morning, in an effort to clarify the context of the request and advocate for his deputies’ and county’s best interests. 

“When the deputies negotiated in 2022, it was a good contract,” Marx continued. “When they got done negotiating that, they were toward the top of the pay scale. Over the last and subsequent year from that, they went from near the top of the pay scale to dead last.”

“Those numbers are ludicrous,” said Supervisors Chair Dan Langreck, referring to correspondence on the issue the supervisors exchanged with the deputies’ union prior to Monday’s meeting. “I’m still [ticked] off from when I read that the other day.”

“Those numbers,” the sheriff began.

“It’s greed!” Langreck exclaimed, interrupting the sheriff. “It’s greed.”

“Well, it’s reality,” Sheriff Marx replied. “It’s the reality of the market. They’re saying ‘Here’s what the market is. Will you talk to us?’ There’s also a difference between what the market says and what someone can afford. What somebody wants, and what they can afford are oftentimes two separate things. I get that. I’m just asking that we take a look at it and look at the future of what this is going to cost if we don’t act now.”

Full article in the February 15 Decorah Public Opinion Newspaper.

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