Why local sheriffs are divided over Nathan Deal's cash for cops plan

Some county sheriffs aren't too keen on Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposal to raise state law enforcement pay 20 percent.

Our AJC colleague Craig Schneider reports how a range of local officers are pushing for more funding for their own salaries. From his story:

Many deputies say they earn less money than their state counterparts and are equally, if not more, deserving of a bump in pay. At this time of stress and scrutiny in the post-Ferguson era of policing, sheriffs and deputies argue that they are the front-line first responders in much of the state. GBI agents, parole officers and game wardens often come in after the fact, the sheriffs say.

“They’re support agencies, fleas on the elephant,” said Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, a former Georgia Sheriffs’ Association president. He said the state officers deserve a raise. But speaking of the deputies and city and county police, he said, “We police Georgia.”

Deputies such as Justin Brock say they’ve had to take one or two extra jobs providing security at high school games and banks to get by. The 13-year veteran in Putnam County, who makes $34,000 a year as a deputy, said he struggles to support a household that includes his disabled wife, three children and his mother.

“I’m just wishing they did more for the local side,” Brock said. “I wish they would even the playing field.”

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.