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DCP Chief Jackie Battle: Low starting pay hurts county police

Police official warns of possible reduction in service

Det. Donald Eubanks is named the Dougherty County Police Department’s “Top Gun” for the second year in a row. Eubanks, right, is recognized by DCP Chief Jackie Battle during the Dougherty County Commission’s meeting Monday morning. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Det. Donald Eubanks is named the Dougherty County Police Department’s “Top Gun” for the second year in a row. Eubanks, right, is recognized by DCP Chief Jackie Battle during the Dougherty County Commission’s meeting Monday morning. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

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Cpl. Tamiko Whitlock, right, is introduced to Dougherty County commissioners Monday as the Dougherty Police Department’s Officer of the Year by DCP Chief Jackie Battle. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — Dougherty County Police Chief Jackie Battle pointed out some of the inherent problems that have plagued her department during a report to the Dougherty County Commission at its work session Monday morning.

Battle told commissioners low starting pay for officers is the primary cause of employee turnover within the department and is a vital component of other issues that may impact service provided by DCP.

“When you have a high attrition rate and low starting pay, sometimes the applicant pool doesn’t leave you with much choice,” Battle said. “And with constant turnover within the department, you constantly have officers in training. That can cause burnout among supervisors as well as applicants, and when you have to have a training officer riding along with the trainee, it cuts into manpower.

“Starting salaries are a handicap for us. That remains a concern. A reduction of service could show up if we have to continuously replace manpower.”

The starting pay for patrol officers in the DCP is $26,413.

After introducing department superlatives for 2013 — including Officer of the Year Cpl. Tamiko Whitlock, Support Staff of the Year Animal Control Agent Tamara Piercey, Top Gun Det. Donald Eubanks and District Attorney’s office DCP Officer of the Year Lt. Chad Kirkpatrick — Battle told the board several resignations within the department’s ranks during 2013 were due to staff leaving for higher-paying jobs.

Battle said DCP had responded to 17,674 calls during the year.

County EMS Director Greg Rowe said his staff of 87 had responded to 20,950 calls and had 13,558 transports during 2013, both down slightly from the year before, in his annual report to the commission. He noted that EMS had traveled 65,000 miles in its seven transport vehicles during the year and had generated $3,164,926 in revenue. Rowe also said average transport time for the year was from 6 to 10 minutes.

“Twenty years ago, when there were no EMS stations in West Albany, transport time there was around 20 minutes,” Commissioner Lamar Hudgins said. “That’s a big difference in 6 to 10 minutes. That shows you how important SPLOST (special-purpose local-option sales tax) has been to our community.”

Rowe, who said that Dougherty EMS is “one of the busiest services in Georgia,” said the same (slower) response time was expected in the southern part of the community before EMS stations were located there as well.

The board also discussed a massive, $1.8 million re-roofing project at the Dougherty County Jail, which is being funded by SPLOST V and VI allocations. Jenkins Roofing Inc. of Tallahassee, Fla., was the low bidder on the project, which County Administrator Richard Crowdis called a “life cycle replacement.” Crowdis also said the jail roof is “the largest roof we have in any county building by far.”

Consultant David Maschke told the board the new roof would come with a 30-year warranty.