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Sheriffs defend fee hike before Missouri Supreme Court

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – Lawyers for the Missouri Sheriff's Association will go before the state Supreme Court Wednesday to defend a fee hike on legal paperwork. The money helps pay the salaries of some rural sheriff's deputies.

Officials in St. Charles and St. Louis counties claim the state is levying an unconstitutional statewide tax to fund local law enforcement. But the Missouri Sheriff's Association says providing adequate policing is a state priority.

Sheriff's Association Executive Director Mick Covington says pay is so low in some counties that deputies qualify for food stamps and welfare. He says that makes it hard to keep experienced staff.

"Some of them are able to hire individuals strictly out of the basic academy, and basically they serve as a training ground and those individuals will stay for anywhere from six months to maybe a year and a half, and then transfer onto a larger agency that can provide better compensation," Covington said.

The law allows sheriff's deputies to collect an extra $10 every time they serve subpoenas or other court papers.

The Sheriff's Association argues deputies are acting as officers of the state when they serve those documents.


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