"We face significant challenges in the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office — not the least of which is establishing separate career paths for detention officers and deputy sheriffs.
"During the past several months, many people in our organization have been working on the development and implementation of this crucial personnel policy. We have talked about separate career paths since I came into office. It is something I have studied for the last four years.
"It makes sense for an agency which already has such a large percentage of its resources dedicated to detention and correction activities and with the imminent prospect that the emphasis on detention and corrections will increase significantly with the opening of the 900-bed addition to Jail-Central. We must begin now to get ready for that day. Implementation of separate career paths for detention officers and deputy sheriffs will help us prepare for the future of our agency.
"This is the main reason we are separating the career options into two definitive avenues. We want to recruit, hire, train and retain professional detention and correctional personnel. This is a field that is growing not only in this county but across the nation. The respect detention/corrections officers have deserved for years is finally becoming a reality. As in all our endeavors since I took office, I want the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office to set the nation's standard for professional detention and corrections.
Any change of this magnitude will certainly have advantages and disadvantages for everyone involved, many of them perceived. The implementation process has begun. The target date for completion of most of the changes is March 1; however, some will have to be implemented more gradually -- such as separate captain promotion paths -- as the effect of the separate career paths result in adequate numbers of officers in each path for promotion.
"You have all received a memo describing the career path components and most of you have already heard my video and discussed the changes with others in the chain of command. I urge you to consider your choices seriously and patiently. Don't make your decisions hastily because there will be advantages to each career path.
"We want it clear from the time someone interviews with the agency what his or her career options are. Detention Officers will have a clear, well defined role with the focus on detention and opportunity for professional and promotional advancement in that area. Deputy Sheriffs will no longer work in detention facilities. Their careers will be more in line with our traditional law enforcement needs.
"I am convinced that this is the fairest way to run this agency. Fairest to individuals who already work here. Fairest to individuals we will recruit for careers in the future. And fairest for the taxpayers of the community to whom we are all ultimately responsible. This plan will allow us to attain our vision: 'being recognized by the people that we serve as a professional organization dedicated to customer service and committed to improving the quality of life in our community'.
"I urge you to join me as we enthusiastically implement career paths for detention officers and deputy sheriffs."