That issue is compounded by the disparity in salaries among counties across the state. For employees at the Barry County Sheriff's Department, the number can be surprising. They are among the lowest paid in southwest Missouri.
Based on an average calendar year of 2,080 working hours, road patrol officers are averaging $10.57 per hour. This includes holidays and nighttime hours when patrol officers are pulled away from their families. A total of 20 patrol officers are paid on average $22,000 a year.
Barry County detectives average $24,500 for hourly rate of $11.77. The department maintains three full-time detectives.
Clerical staffers earn an average of $18,000 annually, or $8.65 per hour for a Monday through Friday position. Three clerical staffers maintain the variety of reports and day-to-day office responsibilities, including payroll and process serving.
Jailers, who also earn an average of $18,000 a year, maintain jail cells, oversee inmates and food preparations 365 days per year. There are nine full-time and one part-time employees on staff.
Law enforcement personnel cover over 1,040 road miles and over 34,000 in total population.
County employees have not had a raise in three years, but the sheriff's department has not been forced to cut back on personnel. There is a hiring freeze in the county at this time.
The 17 road patrol officers with the McDonald County Sheriff's Department earn an average of $25,000 a year, which breaks down to about $12 per hour. This includes the department's two full time detectives and three clerical staffers.
The department's nine jail staff earn an average of $23,000 in annual wages, or about $11 per hour.
Officers in McDonald County cover 900 road miles and a population of 28,000. There is no hiring freeze in place at this time.
In Lawrence County, the 10 road patrol officers earn an average of $31,037 per year or about $14 per hour. They cover 921 miles of roads and a population of 36,000.
Four detectives on staff average $31,422 a year, which breaks down to about $15 per hour.
The jail is manned by 14 employees who earn, on average, $31,160 annually, just less than $15 per hour.
There are two clerical employees in the department who earn $19,375 annually, less than $9.50 per hour based on a 2,080-hour work year.
There is no official hiring freeze in Lawrence County.
The 19 road officers serving the Stone County Sheriff's Department earn about $27,870 a year, about $13 per hour.
Six detectives in the department average $30,160 in annual earnings, or about $14.50 per hour.
The department also has 15 employees working in the jail, earning $26,000 a year or about $12.50 per hour.
There are eight clerical or administrative employees on the payroll, who earn $24,130 per year, or just over $11.50 per hour.
Officers patrol approximately 463 square miles and a population of 36,000.
There is a current hiring freeze in Stone County.