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
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
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.