The Georgia Sheriffs' Association wants all law officers across the state to get paid as much as state police.
Gov. Nathan Deal and the state Legislature gave a raise to Georgia State Patrol officers earlier this year. It brought starting pay to over $46,422 a year. Georgia Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Terry Norris said average pay for local deputies in the state is $29,900 a year, with some barely making $20,000.
“Our officers are out there working two and three jobs, just to make a living,” Norris said.
He’s concerned about the stress that causes.
“It takes a tremendous toll on the family, on the officer's health. Officer suicide and divorce rates are extremely high, and this is part of it,” Norris said.
So what’s it going to take to get the money for pay increases? Norris believes many local communities simply can’t raise the revenue, and it will take action by state legislators.
“Let’s find a way through the General Assembly to pay the difference in what locals are paying these deputy sheriff’s now and what it would take to get them to the level of a state trooper,” he said.
The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says 1,600 police officers received food stamps in Georgia last year.