Cherokee Sheriff's Office desperate to hire deputies - CBS46 News

Cherokee Sheriff's Office desperate to hire deputies

Posted: Updated:

With a record number of sheriff's deputies leaving for other police agencies, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said it is desperate to hire deputies.

"Every one of these cities have hired people from Cherokee County and that's the most frustrating thing," Chief Deputy Vic West told CBS46 News. "Cherokee County citizens have paid to train these folks." 

The sheriff's office said deputies are fleeing for better pay at other police agencies. The starting salary for a Cherokee County deputy is approximately $35,000, while other agencies pay as high as $50,000.

West said that the department currently has 19 positions open and if the trend continues, up to 60 deputies could leave by year's end. He said more than half of the 350-person staff has left in the past five years.

"We have a problem here," said West. "I've been trying to get the commission to listen. I'm exasperated by what seems like a lack of concern."

Residents said they're concerned about the low pay and deputy shortage.

"I think it's important that you pay them what they're worth," said Susan Davis. "They're putting their lives on the line. They have a lot to sacrifice." 

West said officers are working record amounts of overtime and morale is at an all-time low.

"Safety will be a concern if we don't fix this now," said West. "They (deputies) are exhausted.  They're tired."

The department estimates it needs up to $3 million to bring deputies pay in line with other metro Atlanta police agencies. The county has said it currently has less than a half-million dollars budgeted.

"I know that we have an uphill battle climb to address the sheriff department shortage of deputies," said Commissioner Brian Poole in an email. "Whatever we have to do to get this matter resolved we will work hard to help Sheriff Garrison get his department back up to full staff soon."

The commission must have a budget in place by Oct. 1.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.