A contingent of Floyd County law enforcement officers will be heading to Fort Benning in April to meet with soldiers preparing to leave military service.

That’s one of the ways Human Resources Director Darryl Bowie is trying to beef up recruitment of new employees.

“Before that, we’ll have a live Facebook event to promote Floyd County,” Bowie told County Commissioners. “We’ll talk about the beauty of the area, the quality of life, the job opportunities and how you apply, with all the officers transitioning out.”

Commissioners also took several steps last week to improve benefits, with an eye to both keeping the police officers and deputies already employed and filling vacancies in the agencies.

“We need to see more apply,” Commissioner Scotty Hancock said. “It’s not just the pay; there are a lot of things that go into it. And it’s a problem nationally. We just have to cast a wider net.”

County Manager Jamie McCord called the Fort Benning event “strategic targeting,” saying he expects more than 100 potential candidates at the April 26 “Floyd County Day” pre-screening.

Commissioners also agreed to pay $10 toward the $20-a-month Peace Officers Annuity Benefit policy available to law enforcement officers. It currently pays out a pension of about $700 or $800 a month.

“It’s a good deal,” Floyd County Police Chief Mark Wallace said. “If you pay 30 years in, you get your investment back in 10 months.”

McCord said it’s a good recruiting and retention tool but just 85 of the county’s 292 eligible officers take advantage of it, “which is concerning.”

Bartow County pays 100 percent of the monthly dues. Floyd County’s new policy, effective July 1, will match the city of Rome’s benefit.

Bowie also is reviewing a possible shift in the way retirement is calculated for county law enforcement officers. He said Rome allows city police and firefighters to collect full benefits two years before other employees are eligible.

“A 64-year-old chasing bad guys needs to have an opportunity to get out early,” Bowie said.

The board also supported Bowie’s proposal to reciprocate Rome’s policy of counting service in the county police department toward vesting in the city police department’s retirement plan.

The change requires an amendment to the policy, which will have to go before the Commission for official adoption.

Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace said that Sheriff Tim Burkhalter is willing to put together a panel to study other ways to boost recruitment and retention in the field.