Sheriff welcomes legislation to help with hiring crunch

Richard Roundtree
Richard Roundtree(WRDW)
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:59 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said Friday he’s glad for federal legislation that’s meant to counter a law enforcement staffing crisis.

Sens. Ossoff, D-Ga., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced the bipartisan Filling Public Safety Vacancies Act. It would provide a one-time boost in funding through the COPS Hiring Program for the hiring or rehiring of officers – all in an effort to fill key vacancies.

Roundtree said the COPS Hiring Program will help.

“We in law enforcement are facing a very challenging environment when it comes to recruitment, retention and hiring,” he said. “I applaud Sen. Ossoff’s efforts in promoting and facilitating this hiring program to help law enforcement to reduce and mitigate crime.”

Law enforcement agencies say their pool of quality applicants isn’t what it used to be – and it’s a problem across the U.S. as well as here in the CSRA.

The bill would require background checks and mental health evaluations for officers hired through the bill’s funding. That’s currently not a mandate under the COPS Hiring Program.

“Georgia communities face serious public safety staffing shortfalls,” Ossoff said. “My bipartisan bill will help communities hire and retain officers while ensuring newly hired officers undergo rigorous vetting and background checks unprecedented in federal law.”

Among the measure’s supporters are the National Sheriffs’ Association and Fraternal Order of Police, according to Ossoff’s staff.

“Recruitment and retention of law enforcement is a huge challenge right now, and these resources will be invaluable to improving both,” National Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jonathan Thompson said. “That and increasing crime prevention efforts is vital in keeping our communities safe.”

Click here to read the bipartisan Filling Public Safety Vacancies Act.