GarCo sheriff offers deputies $10K signing bonus

Ads like this run daily in the Post Independent as the Garfield County Sheriff's Office seeks to fill routine vacancies.
Staff Photo |

The sheriff has a new year’s gift for incoming deputies that could help offset the cost of living in Garfield County.

Starting on Jan. 1, new deputies with at least two years’ experience will get a $10,000 hiring bonus spread over two years.

Right out of the gate, new deputies will get $5,000. After one year, they’ll get another $3,000, and on their two-year anniversary, they’ll get the final $2,000.

Garfield County Commissioners approved the sign-on bonuses during their meeting Monday.

The department has consistently been operating with several vacancies, said Sheriff Lou Vallario. The office could use three or four more patrol deputies and three jailers, said Walt Stowe, the sheriff’s public information officer.

“The purpose of this bonus is to promote and market an incentive program aimed at recruiting qualified people into the organization; to reduce the number of vacancies; and to provide a financial stipend for the immediate needs of new employees,” Vallario said in a news release.

Pay for patrol and detention deputies ranges between $23.35 and $35.03 per hour depending upon experience, and the rate will remain the same after the bonuses, said Stowe.

The sheriff’s office stands to save hundreds of thousands of dollars by hiring experienced personnel, skipping the bill for expensive training.

In a wider, national trend, Vallario said fewer people than in the past are interested in going into law enforcement.

For several years, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office has had an ongoing ad in the Post Independent for deputies.

When he started in law enforcement in Garfield County, 65 people had applied for one opening at the Glenwood Springs Police Department, said the sheriff. “Now we have more openings than we have people looking for a job.”

People are likely finding jobs that pay better, and officers are under much public scrutiny, Vallario said.

Likewise, the hiring process is arduous, with only about 10 percent of people making it from the application to getting hired. “And that’s before their intensive training.”

The sheriff’s office tried a smaller hiring bonus once before, when the oil and gas industry was strong in Garfield County and was pulling away employees, Vallario said.

It was a successful program, but the retention wasn’t there, he said.

This time around the sheriff’s office will entice new deputies to stay on board by spreading the bonus over two years.

“This way we can get them integrated into the department, rather than giving them the money all at once and risk them going somewhere else,” Stowe said.

“We want people who’re experienced, who know the business and we wanted to sweeten the pie a little bit,” Vallario said.

Glenwood Springs Police Chief said his department has been offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus for several years, but said he was envious of the sheriff’s ability to offer such a high sign-on bonus.

For Garfield County Sheriff’s Office applications go to and select “Join Our Team.”

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