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Local law enforcement agencies implement pay bumps

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:34 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Filling in the gaps in local law enforcement. It’s something agencies say they’ve been struggling with for years. Now we’re starting to see a wave of pay bumps across our area to try and pull more people into the profession.

Right now Columbia County, the city of Aiken, and the city of Grovetown have all implemented some sort of pay increase for first responders. Law enforcement tells us these pay bumps help with morale, recruiting, and most importantly keeping officers at their department.

The need for law enforcement officers never goes away.

“We’ve had open slots for probably two years now and we hope that this helps some,” said Martin Sawyer, Captain of ADPS.

The city of Aiken is trying to close those gaps by approving a 7 percent pay bump for 100 sworn public safety officers and dispatchers starting October 15th.

”It helps with recruiting and retention and obviously competing with these other law enforcement agencies not only here in Aiken but all over the state,” said Sawyer.

Currently, the department has 11 open positions.

“We’ve lost people to other agencies throughout the state,” he said.

Simply because of more pay at a different department. And with COVID it’s limited recruiting events, job fairs, and slowed down the police academy.

“There is expense so there is incentive for us to pay a rate that reflects what other agencies are paying while also staying in our budget,” said Stuart Bedenbaugh, Aiken City Manager.

Counties like Columbia County are just one example of why this works. On July 1st they raised the minimum wage for government employees including first responders. At that time they had 27 open spots with the sheriff’s office and fire rescue. Now 20 of those spots are filled. The goal, they hope, is to bring in more qualified people who will stay longer.

“We’re going to do what it takes to get good people here and to keep them,” he said.

The funding for this pay bump will come out of the city’s general funds. They were able to do this because at the end of last year’s fiscal year the city had a surplus of funds which will cover those 100 employees salaries.

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