AMERICUS, GA (WALB) - Georgia lawmakers will soon discuss several bills to boost the pay and total compensation for police officers and sheriff's deputies across the state.
During spring 2017, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle commissioned the COPS (Compensation of Police and Sheriffs) Task Force, with Sen. Greg Kirk of Americus as co-chair.
Since then, members of the task force have come up with ways to make sure police officers and deputies get paid what they need and deserve.
"The world's just not as safe of a place as it was even a few years ago," explained Kirk, who said that safety will drive several pieces of legislation in the upcoming Georgia General Assembly. "We want to make sure we've got well-trained, qualified officers that are out there ensuring the safety on the front lines."
Kirk said Georgia ranks in the bottom 10 nationally when it comes to local law enforcement pay.
Task force members include chiefs of police, mayors and sheriffs who have discussed how counties and municipalities can pay law enforcement officers better and boost their benefits.
"The local communities that they want to serve in, we want them to be able to make a decent living there," Kirk explained.
The task force released 17 recommendations which include legislation state lawmakers will consider.
One piece of legislation includes requiring counties and municipalities to evaluate law enforcement pay in their area and surrounding areas, then create a pay scale.
"Officers can know when they're applying, that this is what I've got to look forward to," said Kirk.
Kirk said he believes this task force will eventually boost both the number of people entering law enforcement and staying in law enforcement. He explained that he believes this is an issue officers, deputies and citizens should want to solve.
"If you have an automobile accident, who's going to show up? It's going to be law enforcement. If someone breaks into your home, you're going to call law enforcement. You want help with that problem," explained Kirk.
The task force is set to reconvene multiple times during 2018 after the General Assembly wraps up.