ViewPoint: It costs to be safe - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ViewPoint: It costs to be safe

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September 30, 2008

Any where you look, signs of a slowing economy are visible. The spending power of the average citizen is declining, and that has a ripple effect that extends in many directions, and for a great distance.

All forms of government are seeing this ripple effect, and they are cutting back as a result.

One area of government that can have a profound effect on the quality of life for us all is law enforcement.

It's probably safe to say that not only can we NOT afford to cut back in this area, but it's likely that we need to increase- not decrease- the money we spend here.

The thin blue line separates us from the criminals.

Dougherty County offers police officer positions paying over $26,000 a year, and Albany offers a salary range of $33,000 to $40,000. And the city/county website indicates there are continuous openings.

Bear in mind that Albany and Dougherty County police pay is substantially higher than most surrounding jurisdictions, but much lower than Metro Atlanta areas, which are happy to hire officers who got their certification at the expense of South Georgia tax dollars.

Are we going to need to increase this pay scale to get and keep good officers? The answer certainly seems to be yes.

And as taxpayers earn less money, and property values fall in many cases, governments will take in less money at a time when they will need to provide higher pay to those we depend on to protect us.

Tough decisions will have to be made by those we elect to handle our business- where to add and where to cut. Police protection is an area we may be forced to increase budgets with less money in the account.