COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is hiring, and is in need of workers now more than ever.

Major Clay Smith said in the past they would have piles of job applications and people eager to work, but not anymore.

“And you could just pick and choose, but now we’re beating the bushes trying to find qualified people to come to work here,” Major Smith said.

They’re looking to fill positions in communications, the detention center and road patrol.

“The thing about it is, you need to start off in detention or communications,” he said. “So if you can pass a background check, we’ll hire you and we’ll teach you everything you need to know in the detention center and communications, and from there you can move to patrol.”

Major Smith told NewsChannel 6 the Sheriff’s Office is about 35 patrol deputies short.

“We’re having to use other resources. Like we have to call in people for overtime, and we do have to use our reserve deputies,” he said. “We’re still maintaining and covering all the beats in the shifts, but it is putting a strain [on us] because you don’t want to work somebody too much overtime.”

He would like for people who are interested to know the benefits of working there.

“12 hour shifts, professional training, time off, paid holidays, and you can actually get raises based on the amount of schools you go to,” he said. “So if you go to so many schools, you get master deputies levels 1, 2 and 3. And when you get those, it affects your pay – it’ll increase. And so education reimbursement, retirement and advancement.”

He also said Columbia County is a great place to start a law enforcement career.

“It’s definitely a rewarding place to work. And I think if anybody was thinking about getting into law enforcement, if they came here and started, I don’t think they would leave,” he said. “If that’s what they were thinking, to get into it, I don’t think they would leave once they started here.”

Click here to apply online at the sheriff’s office website.

People can also apply in person at the substation or HR office in Appling, GA.