DC public safety leaders want more employees - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

DC public safety leaders want more employees

May 11, 2006

Alabny - The cost of fighting crime is going up, and Dougherty County is feeling the pinch. Some of the County's public safety leaders, including the Sheriff and Juvenile Court Judge, asked commissioners for more money, more equipment and more employees.

From public defenders to the sheriff's deputies, Dougherty County public safety workers are straining to get their work done with what they says is a lack of staff, equipment and money.

"If doing our job means having the personnel, then we've got to have the money to do it," said Sheriff Jamil Saba.

Sheriff Jamil Saba, the Juvenile Court Judge and the Chief Public Defender asked county commissioners for more money so they can bring in more employees.

The Juvenile Court Judge says he sometimes doesn't have any security because a single deputy must juggle between two courts.

Sheriff Saba requested a court bailiff, a deputy to work with youth educational programs, and two additional warrants officers -- at a cost of more than $117,000.

"We are so far behind in warrants," said Saba. "Last year, we served about 62%. We should have been up close to 100%, 95% at least."

The state also mandated that the Sheriff have a full-time employee to register and monitor convicted sexual predators living in the County.

"We've got more than 200 sexual offenders in Dougherty County right now," said Saba.

Sheriff Saba was not the only person with his hand out. The newly organized public defenders office requested $52,000 for equipment and secretaries.

The chief defender says the office handles nearly as many case as the D.A. but with far fewer employees.

Commissioner Chuck Lingle said, "We're trying to hold the line pretty tight."

Commissioner Chuck Lingle says only a few new employees are included in the budget right now including the child felony prosecution team, once paid by Open Arms. Lingle says the county's top priority is giving its current employees raises rather than hiring new people.

"People are your most important asset," said Commissioner Lingle. "If you don't look after them, then you will lose them."

But commissioners also don't want to lose security in our community, so they will now review the requested positions and determine which public safety offices will get more money for employees.

The proposed budget includes a 2.5% pay raise for all county employees. The County Police Chief is asking for additional raises for his officers to make the department's pay more competitive with neighboring forces.

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