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Collin County sheriff doesn't want raises based on performance evaluations

Collin County Courthouse
Azul Sordo
/
KERA
The Collin County courthouse.

Collin County could change how it pays sheriff's office employees, depending on how budget talks go.

Right now, most Collin County employees get raises based on a pay-for-performance system. But Sheriff Jim Skinner said that system doesn’t work for his office, so he and the commissioner’s court are talking about what would work best as the county plans out its budget for the upcoming fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

The pay-for-performance model uses employee evaluations to determine how much of a raise the employee gets. Each employee is rated on a scale from one to three. A higher rating means a bigger salary increase.

Collin County Judge Chris Hill said at a recent commissioners’ court meeting that the pay-for-performance system encourages growth.

“We want to keep those strong performers, and we want to provide incentives for others to improve their performance,” Hill said.

Other counties in Texas don’t use a pay-for-performance model to compensate law enforcement. Collin County Jim Skinner said those counties use a “step model,” which gives every law enforcement officer on the same level the same raise each year. He’s effectively achieved the same result by giving all of his staff a "two" rating in the pay-for-performance system.

Skinner said there’s a reason that other counties don’t use the pay-for-performance model for law enforcement. He said using money as an incentive isn’t a good idea.

“That's great if you're making widgets or you're selling shoes or software or cars or whatever the case may be,” Skinner said. “But it's certainly not a good idea for law enforcement.”

A step program means law enforcement officers can assume they’ll get a set raise each year as long as it’s planned for in the budget. That reduces the incentive for competition among officers. Skinner said that isn’t constructive in a profession that requires a lot of teamwork.

Skinner also said it keeps officers focused on public service. Focusing on a performance standard to get a higher raise can create a mercenary environment, he said, something Skinner doesn’t want to encourage.

“You’re going to pay more money to the guy who writes more tickets than everybody else or takes more people to jail than everybody else,” he said. “I mean, there's much more to law enforcement than that.”

Skinner’s use of the rating system to keep salary increases the same for all of his employees doesn’t impact the budget — he’s distributing the money he gets from the county for raises evenly rather than giving more money to certain employees.

Whether or not the court will change how Collin County pays law enforcement is something Skinner and the court are still discussing. The sheriff said so far, things look promising.

“I'm very, very optimistic that we'll get something worked out that works perfectly,” Skinner said.

Got a tip? Email Caroline Love at clove@kera.org.

Caroline Love is a Report For America corps member for KERA News.

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Caroline Love covers Collin County for KERA and is a member of the Report for America corps. Previously, Caroline covered daily news at Houston Public Media. She has a master's degree from Northwestern University with an emphasis on investigative social justice journalism. During grad school, she reported three feature stories for KERA. She also has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas Christian University and interned with KERA's Think in 2019.