Appling, GA (WJBF) – The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is having a hard time finding top quality deputies. Some officers say getting in the business, and staying is the hard part. To put it into perspective, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office says for every ten applicants, only one moves forward in the screening process.
Over the past four years, the number of new recruits to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has dropped each year. The director of the Augusta Tech Law Enforcement Academy says some of the things happening across the country may be a factor.
“Officer involved shootings and incidents that have occurred and stuff like that, that may have pushed people I wouldn’t say that were necessarily completely dedicated to law enforcement but may have been kind of pushed them away from getting into this profession,” said Major Eric Snowberger, Director at the Augusta Technical College Law Enforcement Academy.
An investigator with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office says part of the reason those numbers are down at that agency is more intense screening.
“You want good quality people working for you, you don’t want– everybody’s got the bad apples they’re going to come through but you want to make sure but you want to do the due diligence to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Daniel Gaston, Investigator for Criminal Investigations Division of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.
Major Steve Morris says they usually see about 450 applicants in the year–but so far this year, they’ve only gotten 189.
“It’s very difficult to get hired here, I would say on average if we ten applications, maybe one makes it through the process,” said Major Steve Morris of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.
While Columbia county uses its own team to recruit, places like the Augusta Tech Police Academy are seeing the first increase in students in 3 years. Patrick Brown is one of those students. He says it’s his calling to serve the community.
“My end goal in law enforcement is to hopefully be higher ranking, important influential member in my community about to effect change on a larger scale, able to implement the kind of policy and procedures i’d like to see in my community,” said Patrick Brown, Student at the Augusta Technical College Law Enforcement Academy.
The Columbia County Sheriffs Office did get a pay increase of 2.5% this month. Major Morris says he’s hope this will give them a more leverage to start bringing more deputies in to protect and serve.