Columbia County Sheriff's Office sees decline in qualified applicants

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga.(WJBF) - The Columbia County Sheriff's Office says it's seeing a lower number of qualified applicants.

Columbia County Deputy Matthew Murrell has been with the department for ten years.

Murrell says he loves his job and the department he works for.

But, he adds getting here wasn't easy.

"It's very extensive to get on with the Sheriff's Office. They do a background check, a polygraph examination, a psychological examination," said Murrell.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office says deputies like Murrell are hard to come by.

"We're getting applications. The problem is we're not getting the quality applications and really for every one person that we offer employment, we probably turn down nine or ten," said Columbia County Major Steve Morris.

Morris says they recruit outside the state but this year they've only had 290 applicants,

Last year, Morris says there were 387.

In 2013, Morris says the Columbia County Sheriff's Office brought in 479 applications.

Morris says there could be many reasons for the decline.

"I don't know for sure but the economy is getting better, more jobs are out there, and the events that have taken place involving law enforcement across the nation over the past few years has not helped," said Morris.

Morris says there is more competition among all the surrounding agencies for those qualified applicants who are applying.

For Columbia County, lowering hiring standards isn't an option.

"We could fill all 21 positions today times ten if we just wanted to fill positions but our citizens deserve better than that," said Morris.

If you think you have what it takes to be a deputy like Murrell, Morris says you have to be willing to uphold the law.

"This agency is like a family. It is hard. It is tough but just knowing you helped somebody out and the citizens here...we have a great relationship." said Murrell.

If you'd like to be a deputy with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, you can visit their website at

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