AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) continues to search for more deputies. According to Col. Calvin Chew, there are 130 vacancies in the entire department — including 22 in the field operations division (road patrol) and 66 in the jail.
“As soon as we’re hiring some, we’re losing some as well,” Chew explained.
RCSO is competing with other law enforcement agencies for a small pool of qualified candidates. According to Chew, RCSO is one of the lowest paying agencies in the CSRA, which has created a recruiting challenge.
“I will say we have slim pickings. There are not a lot of great candidates out there. Just because we’re short, we’re not just looking for a body. We’re looking for good quality candidates. That’s a little difficult, especially with the pay.”
RCSO has requested $3.2 million from the county’s proposed budget to hire more employees and raise pay. The average salary of a new road patrol officer is $39,000.
“We’re hoping if that passes, that’ll be a great incentive for people to start out.”
“They are risking their lives every single day for us,” Catherine Smith Mcknight, an Augusta-Richmond County commissioner, added. “I think some of them feel unappreciated. Richmond County needs to be paying our deputies a good salary so we don’t have them leave to go over to Columbia County or other counties.”
Chew says these vacancies are not keeping RCSO from fighting crime.
“As far as our capabilities, it hasn’t changed,” he explained. “We have the same amount of people working the streets as we’ve always had.”
But, some residents tell NewsChannel 6 they would like to see a bigger law enforcement presence in their neighborhoods. One South Augusta resident said she hopes that will help combat crime.
“That’s what we need — having them ride around the neighborhoods throughout this county, looking and making sure they’re watching to see what people are doing,” Smith Mcknight said.