Georgia Governor Nathan Deal was the special guest at the annual law enforcement appreciation cookout Thursday evening.
Hundreds attended the event held on local businessman Wayne Dasher’s pond house in Tattnall County.
The event was hosted by Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes, Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles, Tattnall County Sheriff Kyle Sapp and Wayne County Sheriff John Carter.
Dasher, who also serves on the Board of Corrections, welcomed law enforcement personnel, first responders, local dignitaries and the governor, while treating all to music and a southern cookout featuring of chicken, pork, and Brunswick stew.
In addition to Deal, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter and U.S. Sen. David Perdue were on hand to celebrate the cookout’s 30th anniversary.
“They have a job that is very difficult,” Deal said. “It is a job that most people would not want. But it is a necessary job…I think it is important for every citizen to say thank you to our law enforcement. And this is an annual event where we do exactly that, show our appreciation.”
Deal recently passed a bill approving a 20 percent pay hike for roughly 3,300 state law enforcement officers equating to a 79 million dollar hike in their median salary.
Deal said he has one more legislative session and he will continue to push for, “whatever I think is appropriate to be able to support law enforcement. This year we did give a 20 percent pay increase for designated state law enforcement officers…I thought that was appropriate…we are going to continue to look at others things.”
However the governor, who is in his second term, didn’t say whether he would approve a measure currently being pushed by the Georgia Sheriff’s Association that would bring local law enforcement agencies’ pay scale to match that of state officers.
That proposal would implement a 1 cents local option sales tax statewide to help counties and cities pay higher wages to police and sheriff’s deputies.
The new sales tax is necessary to keep local law enforcement officials from leaving to take state jobs, proponents say.
The event Thursday gave local sheriffs the opportunity to share their thoughts with Deal and a chance to recognize fellow officers and first responders.