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County police, fire, Sheriff’s Office all short of manpower

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Public safety agencies in Floyd County continue to run below authorized strength in spite of improved pay and benefits. Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, Floyd County Police and Rome-Floyd County Fire Department all reported staff shortfalls during a meeting of the county public safety committee Friday.

The County Commission will provide the third phase of a three-year enhanced pay package later this year. “Most everybody got some adjustment,” said Assistant Floyd County Manager Gary Burkhalter.

The pay scale is based on education, total years of service and years of service in specific positions.

County Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace said she hopes the commission would be able to add some merit raises in the 2018 budget.

Fire Chief Troy Brock said he was seven firefighters short and expects to lose another firefighter to Cobb County at the end of the week. “It’s a national trend that’s following public safety,” Brock said. He said the county is just not getting the number of applicants it used to.

“We’ve lost a few to other departments. Most of them have been going to work for the counties they actually live in,” Brock said. He said the department is hiring and in particular need of candidates who are also certified emergency medical technicians. “That would give you a leg up in the process if you meet all of the other criteria,” Brock said.

The city of Rome completed its most recent pay plan adjustment for public safety personnel, including firefighters, in 2015.

Assistant Floyd County Police Chief Mark Wallace also reported that his staff was short seven officers, 10 if he was to include three positions that have been temporarily frozen.

“We do see a little competition from other police departments, yeah, salaries as well as benefit packages — they always come into play,” Wallace said. “Through the county commission we’ve instituted some measures that we think will help us be more competitive. They’ve allowed us to expand our take home car policy and they started the employee health clinic, and those are definite perks for potential employees.”

David Roberson reported the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department was only down three officers at this time. At one point in the summer of 2015, Sheriff Tim Burkhalter engaged former Governor Roy Barnes, a Cobb County attorney, to do a staffing analysis for the Sheriff’s Department. The manpower issue led to a conflict between the Sheriff and County commission which has — for the most part — been resolved.

Wallace said he couldn’t remember the last time the county police was at full staff. Brock said he’s been at full staff once in the last several years but it didn’t last long. “City and county governments are doing all they can to promote public safety and get the recruits that we need.”