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High risk, low wage

By Blake Williams

At the May 15 meeting of the County Commissioners, Sheriff Jeffery Brewer introduced to the full board updates on the law enforcement here in Emanuel County.

He wanted to stress that law enforcement is more active than just what the public sees, so he shared a few statistics gathered from data collected in 2022.

In 2022, the Sheriff’s Office was called 17,867 times. That means there were 49 calls a day on average.

There are 10 full-time uniform patrol officers, two part-time. These are the deputies that patrol and respond to 911 calls. These officers also perform escorts for funerals, jail transport, locating persons with warrant(s), and serving out civil papers. In 2022, 2,413 traffic citations were written, 2,259 civil papers served, and 2,611 incident reports were written. In total, there were 116,905 hours worked last year between the sheriff’s office and jail.

Sheriff Brewer mentioned that he needs more officers, but won’t settle for lowering standards when it comes to hiring new employees. He wants an officer who can pass all tests, not just academic ones.

"When I took office we took the county's random drug screen," Sheriff Brewer said. "We've already had two quit rather than take the drug screen and we've let two go… We stick to the standards we set.”

Deputies and other county staff attended over 2,562 hours of training last year. In specialized classes alone, there were 440 hours in Crisis Intervention, 128 hours in Active Shooter, 96 hours in Gang Recognition, 80 hours in Criminal Investigation, 72 hours in Precision Intervention Technique, and 48 hours in Internal Affairs Investigation.

About two months ago, the sheriff spoke at a County Commissioners meeting and talked about the challenges his employees are facing with low wages. He spoke about how he doesn’t want to lose his deputies to other positions because they get paid too poorly. In fact, he has lost a deputy to Chandler County because they paid $19 an hour.

Further stretching the budget, the Sheriff's Department is having to buy new vehicles due to most of them having 300,000 miles or more on them. Sheriff Brewer spoke about how it would be cheaper to buy new ones than having to keep getting the older ones fixed. Plus it becomes a safety hazard.

County Administrator Guy Singletary talked about having the same issue of competing for workers when it comes to justifying wages. He then suggested to the board that they hire the American Facility Services to clean the county facilities. Singletary proposed they not only provide the cleaning services, but also the supplies as well. The winning bid was $110,260 a year for their services. The board unanimously approved the motion.

In other areas of new business, the board reappointed Courtney Terwilliger to the EMS Council and the board is also looking for someone to join the Hospital Authority Board. To qualify, send in your name and reason on my you feel as you should be appointed to the board. It wouldn’t hurt to include a resume. Three names will then be picked from the commissioners board and sent to the authority board to choose a new member.

Earlier in the meeting, Melissa Clements returned to re-address her issue with the drainage problems on Kemp Road in her driveway.



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