SNOW HILL – Deputies from the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department will not be providing extra patrols at Walmart this holiday season following a recent decision by county leaders.
On Tuesday the Worcester County Commissioners voted 5-2 against approving a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would have allowed deputies to perform extra patrols at Walmart on Black Friday and Christmas.
“I’ve been on the record as not in favor of any MOUs with anybody,” Commissioner Jim Bunting said. “I don’t think our sheriff’s department should be security.”
Lieutenant Mark Bowen approached the commissioners seeking approval of the MOU, which outlined the time periods the extra patrols would occur, the rate Walmart would pay and the fact that the deputies would be on-duty and under the supervision of the sheriff during that time. Bowen said Walmart would be charged $75 per hour per deputy, as that was the rate that had been set by the county.
Commissioner Joe Mitrecic questioned whether $75 an hour would cover the cost, considering deputies were paid overtime on holidays.
“I want to make sure we’re not going to be double-paying and only charge time-and-a-half to Walmart,” he said.
Stacey Norton, the county’s human resources director, explained that the deputies who did the work would be given alternate days off to make up for working on the holidays and therefore would be paid the regular overtime rate.
Commissioner Chip Bertino asked who would be performing the patrols. Bowen explained the task would be given to whoever volunteered for it.
“Everybody has a fair chance,” he said. “Nobody’s forced to do it. It’s all volunteer.”
Bertino also wanted to know whether the sheriff’s department performed this type of work for other area businesses. Bowen said they were free to ask.
“We’ve done Walmart in the past and they liked the service,” he said.
Commissioner Ted Elder asked whether the $75 rate would cover the cost of overtime if a member of the command staff volunteered.
“I don’t foresee anybody in the command staff signing up to work at Walmart,” Bowen said.
Bunting pointed out that the sheriff’s department had road patrols out every day of the year. He asked whether they could simply circle the Walmart parking lot during their normal patrols.
Bowen said Walmart officials specifically wanted to have a deputy there.
“I think there are too many questions here,” Mitrecic said.
Commissioners Diana Purnell and Bud Church were the only two to vote in support of the MOU.