DCP officers leaving over low pay - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

DCP officers leaving over low pay


The Dougherty County Police Chief says low salaries are prompting more officers to leave the department, putting public safety at risk.

Chief Jackie Battle told county commissioners Monday attrition continues to challenge the department's ability to fight crime.  And low salaries aren't making it easy to attract new applicants. 

They say crime doesn't pay, and it seems fighting crime in Dougherty County may not pay either. 

"It's kind of hard to keep someone in a job where they're making the same pay that they started with four of five years ago," said Chief Jackie Battle, Dougherty County Police Department. 

Chief Jackie Battle said 14 officers left the department last year, mostly because of low salaries.  And some who stay on the force are holding side jobs to make ends meet. 

"We started out with 7 vacancies and ended the year with 5 vacancies.  But in between we went through several persons for different reasons," said the chief. 

It's creating a high turnover rate, and making it more difficult to fight crime. 

"Public safety has to be at the top of our list of priorities.  That's part of what we're responsible for as a government," said John Hayes, Dougherty County Commissioner. 

Starting pay for patrol officers is $26,000 a year, significantly lower than surrounding law enforcement agencies.

"Our guys make I'm gonna estimate approximately $3,000 to $5,000 less a year, so we're way under just here within the city itself," Battle said.  She said many applicants are going to Albany Police, Albany State University, Dougherty County School Police and other agencies. 

"Certainly the delicate and quite frankly dangerous role they have, we want to make sure we are there and we can be as supportive and as sensitive to what's going on in that department as we can," said Hayes.  He said a rebounding local economy, and progress with the county's budget could be a little light at the end of the tunnel. 

Leaders hope to find a way to boost salaries.  They commended the department for a job well done.

Dougherty County Police officers responded to more than 17, 674 calls, arrested 914 people, and recovered $80,000 in stolen property in 2013.    


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