KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is looking at increasing pay for deputies and corrections officers to help fill open positions and stay competitive with other agencies.

At a news conference Friday, Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler is asking for a 30 percent pay increase for deputies and corrections officers. The sheriff says his department right now has 127 open positions in law enforcement and corrections, and he says to fill those spots his office needs to increase salaries.  

According to Spangler, beginning pay for those jobs is $44,814 and $39,471. He said he wants both to be $50,000.

The sheriff said those willing to serve and protect deserve better pay, and without it, Knox County will continue to lose out to other agencies and counties.  

“Those men and women who are doing that job and are wearing that vest and taking that chance of being exposed to fentanyl every day. We got to take care of those individuals.” 

Spangler said he has already submitted the pay increase proposal to the Knox County mayor’s office. 

At the news conference, Spangler spoke about more than just pay. He also talked about several other issues, including an increase in school related threats. He explained school threats – from guns and explosives to violence, are up 32 percent from this time last year. Knox County Sheriff’s Office takes every threat seriously, Spangler said.

“We are going to arrest anybody who makes a threat. Period. You make a threat in writing. You make it on social media. You make it on social media. We’re coming after you. Juvenile and adults – it doesn’t matter,” Spangler said. “I don’t care if they say they’re joking. Here’s the joke – you’re going to juvenile.”

Spangler also shared his sympathy for the victims, the families and the officers involved in the Nashville school shooting.

“It’s too close to home and I want to make sure the victims know and the families know that were thinking about them.” Spangler said.