ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts says something must be done about his deputies’ pay.

Starting pay for a St. Louis sheriff’s deputy is $34,000 a year, according to Betts, which is less than other departments in the area.

Betts says the city sheriff’s department does an important job protecting the public.

Deputies are responsible for security at the city’s courts and inside courtrooms. They patrol parking lots during sporting events and other events that draw a lot of people downtown. They also provide security on MetroLink.

“Well, I see everybody around the city is getting raises. The board of aldermen, the St. Louis (Metropolitan) Police Department, and my staff needs a raise more than any of those folks. We are the lowest-paid law enforcement agency in the St. Louis region. We make less than Franklin County, Jefferson County, (and) St Charles County,” Betts said.

According to Sheriff Betts, St. Charles deputies are paid $57,446, deputies from Jefferson County earn $56,100, and deputies in Franklin and Warren counties make $55,000.

“… We transport prisoners, we protect the courts, we’re the bailiffs in the courtroom, we serve papers,” Bett said.

The sheriff has 160 deputies on the staff. He says he’s losing an average of 23 deputies a year because of the low pay.

At present, Betts is trying to convince the board of aldermen to give his deputies a raise. In addition to pay increases, the sheriff says they’re in need of more items like bulletproof vests and body cameras.