3/26/2012 : Sheriffs promot accountability through training

On Tuesday, March 20, a senate committee approved legislation that creates the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Executive Management Institute.  The purpose of the measure by Sen. J.P. Morrell is to provide management courses for Louisiana sheriffs in an effort to enhance the safety of Louisiana’s citizens and to ensure the enforcement of state laws.  The costs for the Institute will be funded by the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association.

When testifying before Senate Judiciary B Committee Michael A. Ranatza, executive director of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association, stated, “This bill was created in an effort to strengthen the professional role of sheriff and to reduce the negative stigma associated with some of our members who have run afoul of the law.  Our main intent here is to establish the first mandate for training of sheriffs in the state of Louisiana.  For the first time in history, all of Louisiana’s sheriffs have banded together in an effort towards accountability.”

In the most recent training Institute for Louisiana’s newly elected sheriffs, Ranatza emphasized the importance of this accountability to the public.

“The most important thing you can do as a public servant,” Ranatza said, “is to remember that the public comes first.  Everything that we do is about building trust and upholding the public’s confidence by doing our jobs and always being mindful of the needs of our communities.  Louisiana sheriffs have taken their best step forward with the creation of the Louisiana Executive Management Institute.”

Upon completion of the Institute, sheriffs will also be required to complete twelve hours of continuing education each year.  When a sheriff has completed the training requirement he becomes eligible for a pay raise if and only if the legislature provides a salary increase for district court judges.

According to Ranatza, in the past Louisiana sheriffs’ pay structure was tied to judges’ salaries because sheriffs are members of the judiciary and officers of the court.  Therefore provisions of law stated that when district court judges received raises, so did the sheriffs.

Ranatza further explained to the committee that along with the mandate for training, this law would help recover those provisions of law, which lapsed two years ago. 

“It is not about a pay raise this year,” Ranatza said, it’s about establishing the possiblityof earning a raise in subsequent years.  In the past, we were simply given a raise when the judges were; we come before you now asking you to allow us to earn the raise, noting that only you (the legislature) will have the authority to do so.”

Sheriffs would not become eligible for pay raises until after January 1, 2013, and only if the legislature provides for it.  If a salary increase does occur it will not be through the expense of the state’s general fund, but rather through the Sheriffs’ Salary Fund.

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