Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles went before county commissioners April 1 and asked for additional deputies.
Nobles said at least three are needed, but that the ideal number is four so that he could add one more deputy to each shift. Currently, the sheriff’s office has 19 deputies and three administrative personnel.
According to Nobles, the last time an increase in the road patrol took place was in 2000, and that with Long County being the fastest-growing community in southeast Georgia, the amount of crime has grown substantially. He said that with the limited number of deputies, it is getting more difficult to effectively protect and serve citizens.
Nobles provided the commissioners with a list of 11 counties that are comparable in population or have a lower population than Long County. Nine of the 11 counties have more sworn deputies on staff and all have more total employees.
Nobles said that additional deputies would provide several advantages for the county, including a faster response time to calls, lower overtime expenses, decreased mileage and wear on vehicles, and safer conditions for deputies. He said that the total annual cost for one deputy is approximately $42,000, but that if the commissioners approved the request, he could apply for a grant that would pay 75 percent of that cost for three years, meaning that the county would have to pay $10,500 for each deputy.
Commission Vice Chair Kent Hall told Nobles that the county provides over $1 million in salaries to the sheriff’s office. He said that the problem with hiring the additional deputies wouldn’t show up now, but at the end of the three years. Kent said that the county then would have to pay approximately $150,000 annually to keep the deputies and the only way to do that would be by raising taxes.
Commissioner Dwight Gordon also told Nobles that the figures he provided could not be used as good comparisons because each county has larger cities and more industry than Long County.
After a brief discussion, Chairman Robert Long said that he understands the difficulties that Nobles spoke of, but that, at this point, all the commissioners can do is look into his request.
Nobles also requested approval of $3,920 to place printers in each of the eight patrol cars. He said that doing this would increase efficiency and save the county man hours in both his office and in the superior clerk of court’s office. Hall said the clerk of courts said that the equipment would substantially free up one of her employees.
In one other item of business, Nobles told commissioners that his office had received its certificate to maintain misdemeanor probation in the county. As a result, he recommended that the contract with Misdemeanor Probation Peach State end in December and then, at that point, the county could begin handling it.
In other business, commissioners:
• Appointed Anthony Smith to the tax-assessors board, with his four-year term beginning May 1.
• Reported that the county had received a $10,712 check from the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.
• Informed Nils Gustavson that they would consider an agreement with Hinesville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
• Approved a proclamation declaring April as Donate Life Month.
• Discussed drainage and road problems in the Vicker’s Hill subdivision. More information on this will be provided in an upcoming Courier.