418611_391954274152906_582258492_nCommissioners also heard a presentation from Sheriff-elect Brian Hawthorne, asking them to approve a new salary schedule for the sheriff’s office.

Hawthorne said the new schedule would bring more consistency to the pay of various deputies and sergeants, and would include incentive pay for those with higher levels of education or state certification. Also, he said, the new schedule would allow him to pay deputies based on their total law enforcement experience, not just experience within Chambers County.

He said the new salary schedule could be put into use using the already-approved budget. He noted, though, that some sheriff’s office staff would be paid less under the new schedule than they are currently.

Hawthorne said he would begin offering jobs to deputies and sergeants, along with notifying them what the pay would be after the first of the year, as soon as commissioners accepted the new rates. The proposal was accepted.

He also asked commissioners to approve hiring an outside person to conduct a full audit of the sheriff’s office property rooms where evidence is stored. He said that in 2010, District Attorney Cheryl Leick had expressed concern that irregularities in storing evidence could cause problems in prosecuting some crimes.

The incoming sheriff asked that commissioners approve hiring a locksmith to change the locks on the evidence rooms the night of Dec. 31. Initially, only the person hired for the inventory will have keys. After the inventory is conducted, Hawthorne will receive the keys to the evidence rooms along with a complete inventory of stored property.

Commissioners approved the process, and accepted Hawthorne’s recommendation to hire as the independent inventory-conductor a sergeant with the Houston Police Department who has extensive experience in property room management and crime scene investigation. Hawthorne said the inventory should take about three days.

Sheriff Hawthorne will be sworn in sheriff position on January 1, 2013, one minute past midnight.