Hamblen County Sheriff says employees don’t make living wage

Hamblen County Sheriff Esco Jarnagin

MORRISTOWN (WATE) – Hamblen County Sheriff Esco Jarnagin is filing a “Salary Suit” asking for more money for the sheriff’s department employees.

Sheriff Jarnagin said his attempts to work with the Hamblen County governing body have failed to produce an acceptable living wage for sheriff’s office employees. “For many years the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department employees have been grossly underpaid and dangerously understaffed,” said Jarnagin. “It is time to properly address this concern.”

Jailers make $10 per hour and risk their life according to Jarnagin. In public forum, he said some commissioners have stated “the Sheriff’s Office employees do not need more money” or “If you are not satisfied with your job, find another one.”

“It is our duty to serve and protect by putting our lives on the line. We do so with graciousness and a since of duty to our community,” said Jarnigan. He says it is time for his employees to make enough to be able to support their families.

The sheriff has received hundreds of comments from supports of the lawsuit, saying they are thankful the sheriff is fighting for his employees. Many said they had to get two jobs in order to support their families.

“It does not matter what capacity an officer of the law fills, the profession still puts them in potential harms way and demands a decent salary instead of almost minimum wage,” said supporter Patricia Bible. “We need well qualified people in these positions with a salary that meets the demands of the work performed.”

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