Crisp Co. Sheriff’s Office offering higher pay to help with staffing shortages

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Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 6:27 PM EST
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CORDELE, Ga. (WALB) - The Crisp County Sheriff’s Office is just one of the law enforcement agencies experiencing critical staffing shortages. They’re trying to fix that by offering higher pay and benefits.

Sheriff Billy Hancock said they have about 19 openings. Some of the reasons are the job itself and the pandemic, but those aren’t the only reasons.

″I think some of the ‘defund the police’ segments were a part of it. Then, of course, we rolled into COVID. We saw people with 10 to 14 years leave,” said Hancock.

Working in law enforcement for around 40 years, Hancock said the critical shortage many agencies are facing started about two years ago.

“In two incidents, they were certified officers that left when we did that exit interview. It was because their family thought they would be safer doing something else in the world,” said Hancock.

Sheriff Billy Hancock says they've been experiencing this shortage for the past two years.
Sheriff Billy Hancock says they've been experiencing this shortage for the past two years.(WALB)

Working to get people through the doors, they’ve increased pay. Detention officers and deputies just starting off are making almost $18 an hour.

″It’s not just $36,000 a year. We’re paying a portion of insurance. We still have a 30-year defined retirement here at Crisp County. So in other words, you can work 30 years regardless of your age and retire,” said Hancock.

Even with higher pay and better benefits, Hancock said they are still experiencing a critical shortage. Now, they’re working on more ways to keep the people they hire.

“When you hire somebody, you send them to the Academy, and you buy the equipment, and you train them. You’re going to have about $78,000 in that person when they leave. We’re trying to do everything that we can within our power to make that monetary attraction for those individuals. We’re still not there, so it tells me it’s not all about money anymore. It’s about the job, it’s about the safety,” said Hancock.

Recently, Crisp County Sheriff’s Office tried to broaden the pool of candidates by relaxing its tattoo policy. If the tattoo fits the guidelines, they no longer have to wear a sleave. Employees are also now allowed to live further away than before, up to 40 miles away from the sheriff’s office.

Hancock said serving the community is just one of the reasons he joined law enforcement.

“To me, it’s rewarding to help people. A law enforcement officer has to earn the respect. The way we do is how we treat the people in the community. We want people on the outside to realize they’re humans. They go through a lot. You need to hear our side of the story just as we need to hear your side of the story,” said Hancock.

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