Governor Deal Announces Sweeping Initiative to Strengthen Law Enforcement

Governor Deal announces is law enforcement reform plan at the State Capitol.  Photo; Jon Richards
Governor Deal announces is law enforcement reform plan at the State Capitol. Photo; Jon Richards
Recognizing that Georgia’s public safety officers have difficult and dangerous jobs for which they are not adequately compensated, Governor Deal announced a two part law enforcement initiative this morning, including a 20% pay raise for the state’s law enforcement officers and additional training programs designed to improve officers’ skills and effectiveness. Flanked by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Speaker of the House David Ralston, legislative leadership, and literally hundreds of state patrol, GBI, and other law enforcement personnel, Deal made the announcement at the Capitol this morning.

“We ask our law enforcement personnel at all levels and at all ranks to do a very difficult job, one that requires great skill, long suffering, and dedication of purpose,” Deal said, “These brave and caring men and women, many who are here today, they go out every shift to face uncertainty, and danger so that their neighbors may not have to do so. And while their jobs have only become more difficult and dangerous over the years, the thanks they receive has not kept pace.”

The governor’s law enforcement reform proposal includes a 20% raise for the state’s approximately 3,314 individuals working in various branches of law enforcement. The 20% raise, which is on top of a 6% increase approved by the General Assembly during the 2016 session, will take effect January 1st, and will cost close to $79 million, split between the amended FY 2017 budget and the 2018 budget. The increases move the compensation for the state’s law enforcement officers from sixth to third in the southeast, and from 50th to 24th in the United States.

In addition to the pay increase, the governor announced an overhaul of training programs for state and local law enforcement, divided into three parts. Officers will be required to take an additional four hours of training in order to become POST certified in areas including use of force, the concepts of effective policing and the importance of building positive community relations. Two hours of this training can be chosen from electives that meet the specific needs of the officer’s duties.

A crisis intervention training program that was originally developed in 2004 will be expanded and made available to more officers. Currently run by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the program will relocate to the state’s law enforcement training center in Forsyth, where it will be available to an additional 57,000 state and local officers.

The third part of the training program revisions is the creation of a task force to review basic law enforcement training and to determine, after working with members of the community, any changes that should be made.

Plans to increase compensation for the state’s law enforcement employees have been under consideration for several years, but couldn’t be implemented until the state’s reserve fund had been replenished following the lean times after the great recession. In his remarks, Speaker David Ralston compared the state’s budget to that of a family budget, stating that with this initiative, “You can see clearly where our priorities are, and today, we are reaffirming our commitment, our solemn duty, to those who answer the call to serve.”

Following the announcement, Governor Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle, and Speaker Ralston took time to shake hands with every member of law enforcement present, a process that took over half an hour.

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Jon RichardsSaltycrackerThe Dixie CheetomongerNoway2016Charlie Recent comment authors
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Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

A refreshing break from fixing what’s not broken, like the JQC, and ignoring what is broken, like healthcare for the working poor.

Benevolus
Benevolus

I want to express kudos to the Governor. Sounds like a good plan.
Something inside me wonders what family member or friend will benefit though.

Lea Thrace
Lea Thrace

your strike through is hilarious and on point. Cause as much as I think Deal is corrupt and bordering on amoral in some areas, he has really done some good in some areas. So much so that if he were running for a third, I would actually have to make myself consider voting for him rather than discounting him wholesale.

Cant believe it.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

I agree Deal has done a good job overall, apart from cronyism. But what was so difficult about signing legislation to increase funding for a cratering highway system, reforming sentencing that was throwing cash down a hole, vetoing RFRA when it would give the state a black eye, or vetoing guns in college day care centers. I ascribe Deal’s performance it to a combination of the Chamber and political instincts, not leadership.

chefdavid
chefdavid

This message is sponsored by the super speeder law.— just kidding

blakeage80
blakeage80

“These brave and caring men and women, many who are here today, they go out every shift to face uncertainty, and danger so that their neighbors may not have to do so. And while their jobs have only become more difficult and dangerous over the years, the thanks they receive has not kept pace.” Its a job. You get a paycheck for services rendered. I’m not begrudging the raise. Good for them, but the kind of language the Gov uses sounds like he thinks they are a military force to which we should be forever grateful for defending our freedom.… Read more »

bethebalance
bethebalance

well, teachers got 3%, right ;? that does say something, and probly more abt the politics and optics than the merits of pay raises. 20% for law enforcement seems like a good motivating factor, to induce some cultural shifts and accept new training requirements. but the prob with any raises- in any profession- is that the positive feelings they engender are short term. 20% may get some shifts, but there are some longer-term shifts that will require longer-term reinforcements. so in that light, 20% is kind of, to mix metaphors, blowing all your cash at the first swing .

gsupantherfan1
gsupantherfan1

This is a big deal for law enforcement. Retention can be a big problem for several of these state agencies (especially if they require a college degree and start officers out around 30k or less). Once they get the basic training, it is easier for them to transition to local, county, or federal law enforcement jobs.

Lea Thrace
Lea Thrace

“Its a job. You get a paycheck for services rendered. I’m not begrudging the raise. Good for them, but the kind of language the Gov uses sounds like he thinks they are a military force to which we should be forever grateful for defending our freedom. It’s not the same thing.”

Better be careful before you run afoul of some blue lives matter folks. I said the same thing you said in a different forum regarding the lionizing of police forces and got called everything but a child of God.

LoyaltyIsMyHonor
LoyaltyIsMyHonor

Ditto, Black Lives Matter.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

I display the “Back The Blue” logo alongside the “Black Lives Matter” logo” at home. They’re at least reconcilable if not symbiotic, not mutually exclusive. The knee jerk on each side (and I’m not at all suggesting knee jerk on your part) is an enemy.

Noway2016
Noway2016

Blake, I think you said that in an attempt for some sort of hard assed shock humor. You surely don’t mean it.

Charlie
Charlie

The comments above make me sad for most of you. Ill informed and desperate to make someone else’s recognition your ax to grind. Teachers 3%? 2-3% every year when the cops and every other state employee got 1%, 1 time, over 8 years. This almost catches the police up. Meanwhile, if you look at Dallas and Baton Rouge, you can note that the desirability of these jobs are a lot less than they were a year ago. Cops are literally being hunted while they try to protect and serve us. It’s done a number on our recruitment and ability to… Read more »

The Dixie Cheetomonger
The Dixie Cheetomonger

But will it be budget neutral?

Benevolus
Benevolus

Since the state budget has to be balanced I think it must be neutral. Hopefully, as the economy continues to improve the increase in tax revenues will take care of most of the cost.

bethebalance
bethebalance

my comment certainly wasn’t meant to detract from the good efforts of the law enforcement wage increase- and I hope not interpreted as such. the idea was to convey that regularity and long-term pay raises and other incentives can be more effective, especially when implemented in tandem with other policy changes. perhaps the Gov is restrained by his term in office, but i don’t think there’s anything preventing passage of a law that looked at policy and salaries longer-term.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Something I’ve long wanted is government paying premiums for basic life insurance for police and emergency responders, and subsidizing up to some level additional elective coverage, without the cost out of their pockets indirectly. Low paid responders, and they’ll yet be underpaid after a 20% bump, shouldn’t have to do the calculus.

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

Law enforcement needed a boost. There is the unmentionable, the millions more needed to fund the long non working years we have promised to pay for. Municipalities are slowly beginning to realize the actuarial models they have are building castles on sand.

A number I was recently told that a 0.25% reduction in the forecasted return (7.5% ) would require a 10% increase in funding. And that only slows the appearances of the hole we are digging.

We struggle and delay with the note now as the balloon grows. But let’s not talk about that and aggravate the taxpayer.