Ben Hill sheriff vows a fight to keep citizens safe - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Ben Hill sheriff vows a fight to keep citizens safe

FITZGERALD, GA (WALB) -

2013 is starting off on the wrong foot for employees at the Ben Hill County Sheriff's office.

Ben Hill County Sheriff Bobby McLemore says he will take legal action against county commissioners if they aren't willing to adjust their budget. Sheriff Bobby McLemore got a letter from commissioners this morning demanding he cut costs by 10%. He's already cut eight positions.

McLemore says he's putting his foot down because they are already very limited with what they are able to do.

Not only were there 12 fewer workers, but Sheriff Bobby McLemore got a letter laying out a budget that was 318,000 less than what he was expecting. "We are working with a skeleton crew right now and the commission has put us in a position where we can't do that," said McLemore.

He says he already cut eight positions to help with the budget, but in order to cut an additional ten percent he would have to take extreme measures.

" I would have to cut 16 more positions. There is no way that can happen." And he won't let it happen. "This has been carried to court numerous times and the sheriff always prevails, I don't want to have to make them pay for my attorney fees."

He says if commissioners aren't willing to come to some negotiation he will take them to court. "That's why I hope we can do this through negotiate without having to put an added expense of attorney on the taxpayers."

He is not willing to jeopardize the safety of the folks in the county. "To cut those three jailers has been a bold move on my part because it threatens the security."

And morale is down, since employees are already working other jobs for the same pay. One of those employees is Jeffery Dobbins. "I'm tired-- it was a long weekend," said Dobbins.

He was supposed to be off, but had to come in work more than 20 hours straight on the roadways. "Real busy night, we even had some drug agents come out and help us."

But the sheriff says he and his officers will always protect and serve, "I promised the people of Ben Hill county I was going to protect them and I'm going to do it if it means I work 24 hours or my officers work overtime. Whatever it takes we are going to do it."

In the meantime, officers ask that folks in the community are patient since they have fewer officers to respond. If he does take them to court, he would ask that they put those eight people back, and allow him to hire seven more.

He says he will wait to see what commissioners discuss at an upcoming budget meeting before he decides if he needs to hire an attorney.

 

Copyright 2013 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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