10:00 PM PST on Monday, January 25, 2010

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

Ed Rose has been a member of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for 21 years — the last nine as an investigator.

He wants to stay with the department, but he has no desire to enter management. In the past, that would have left him few options — short of leaving for other agencies — to advance his career and earn more money.

Now things have changed.

The Sheriff’s Department is launching a new training program designed to give its investigators more pay and an incentive to remain with the agency.

The Career Investigator Program, approved by the Board of Supervisors this month, has been 10 years in the making between the department and the Riverside Sheriff’s Association.

The program creates a series of new job classifications — and rising pay — if investigators reach certain levels of training and experience. Although the board has yet to allocate funds for the program, the framework is in place, officials said.

“I still enjoy doing the investigator stuff,” Rose said.

Investigators look into actual and suspected crimes, and can work on cases ranging from homicides to financial misdeeds. The department has about 220 investigator positions, although dozens are vacant.

Assistant Sheriff Colleen Walker said the program provides career growth and an alternative to entering management. More importantly, the program will help keep investigators from leaving the department. Other agencies, including district attorney offices, often lure the investigators away with higher pay, Walker said.

“A biggie with us is to retain them,” she said. “A lot of our senior investigators go on to other places and don’t stay with us, particularly DA offices and become DA investigators.”

Pay in the new job classifications range from $62,000 for a Sheriff’s Investigator I to as high as $107,000 for a Sheriff’s Master Investigator IV.

The post would put the sheriff’s top investigator position more in line with senior district attorney’s investigators, county records show. A senior DA investigator can earn as much as $118,000 a year.

“They will have to show certain competencies, certain skill sets that they will have to accomplish even before they can rise to the next level,” Walker said.

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