Sheriff Loftis’ command staff demoted by Lewis, kept high salaries

The day Sheriff Will Lewis took office in January, he demoted 9 of Sheriff Steve Loftis’ command staff deputies.

Those deputies consisted of high ranking and high salaried employees that were subsequently demoted because of a change in leadership. The total for those 9 deputies’ salaries is $682,000. Those deputies retained their salaries, despite losing rank and their positions.

Lewis requested a $2.5 Million increase for salaries in his 2018 fiscal year budget. County Council Chair Butch Kirven says that Lewis presented a list of positions that would be added, as a need for the salary increase. That list was not available at the time of this article. Kirven stated that Lewis told them the additional positions were needed to better public safety protection.

That budget was unanimously approved by county council.

In a statement released by the Sheriff’s Office, that in part states the following:

“Upon beginning the transition into this administration, Sheriff Lewis made it clear that people who held high -ranking positions under the former Sheriff, including Captains, would face demotions and be reassigned to other divisions. These divisions included Support, which serves General Sessions Court, and the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). While other departments will often fire the command staffs of their predecessors, it was the express desire of the Lewis administration to recognize the extensive years of service these men and women had committed to our community and to law enforcement, and to give them the option to stay on board in a new role.  In an effort to be fiscally responsible, the Sheriff inquired about reducing the salaries of these certain employees to fit their new roles and responsibilities under the guidelines of the Greenville County Compensation Plan of 2002 (approved by Greenville County Council ).  However, Greenville County Administration informed the Sheriff and his leadership team that an agreement, established upon Sheriff Loftis’s exit from office,  would prohibit any reduction in salary for his previous command staff members facing demotion. Further questions about this agreement should be directed to Greenville County Administration.  The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office employs 466 sworn law enforcement officers in many roles, each one just as important as the next. Whether that deputy is scanning bags at the courthouse, pulling fatal drugs off the interstate, investigating murders or dealing with the daily administrative operations that keep our affairs in order, it is inappropriate to presume any responsibility is more or less important than any other.  These are some of the hardest working people around.  We take great pride in their service and their professionalism. We will always strive to provide you with the information that you can use to best inform the public, as we believe in the inherent value of your provision of news to the public. They should receive it in full and without bias. Thank you for your continued work and partnership in serving the best interests of our community.”

It is common for new Sheriff’s to rearrange employees and command staff when taking office. In many cases, they simply do not retain many of those employees, according to the Sheriff’s Association.