Casey Cagle Wants To Set A Mandatory Wage For Officers PDF Print E-mail
News - Local News
Monday, 10 July 2017 10:24
Helping boost all police officer salaries across the state, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle wants to create a mandatory minimum wage just for that profession.
Cagle announced that plan during a campaign stop in Chattooga County last Friday.  Cagle, along with a few other state Republicans, is running to replace term-limited Governor Nathan Deal.
"We are looking for mandatory minimums for our local law enforcement officers. We raised our state troopers [pay]. We've got to find a way for local law enforcement to do the same," Cagle said.
The minimum wage would only affect post-certified officers, Cagle said. 
Since troopers got a 20-percent pay hike this year, staffing is a concern for local police and sheriff's department, according to Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Schrader.
"I've got several deputies that are definitely checking into working for the State Patrol," Sheriff Schrader said. "They could make $15,000 more a year just on the starting salary."
The sheriff already loses employees to neighboring city police departments who offer higher pay. Now the State Patrol is added competition.
"The State Patrol is actively recruiting our officers," the sheriff said.
A starting deputy's salary is $28,100 a year. However, the base pay for a trooper is now $46,422, according to state records.
Cagle's plan to increase the minimum wage for all cops didn't come with a dollar amount. Sheriff Schrader said he doesn't foresee local cops making the same amount as troopers, but he would hope the disparity between the state and local wages would not be as great.
The sheriff was also cautious about paying for this minimum wage. He did not want rural communities with small tax bases competing with urban salaries. 
Cagle, however, claims that city and county governments won't have to worry about paying for this minimum wage. It won't be an unfunded state mandate, according to Cagle.
His created a statewide task force to find ways to boost officer compensation and find ways for the state to pay for it.
"We are going to find some ways that are going to help some of our poorer counties that do not have the tax base to compensate officers the way they need to be. We may have to look at doing something like we do with education equalization where the state finds ways to help offset some of the costs that is needed," Cagle said.
This idea to increase the minimum comes after legislators worked to boost GBI agents, Georgia State Patrolmen and other state law enforcement employees' pay earlier this year.
Under the state's new wage for state troopers, their base pay went from $38,685 a year to $46,422, according to state records.
"When you look at what is going on in our country and you look at, sadly enough, the shootings and attacks on law enforcement, then we are not paying them near enough for the sacrifice they are making. This past year we increased the indemnity coverage up to $150,000 for a fallen officer for it to go to their family. That's not near enough. We've got to continue to find ways to ensure we are compensating them. We will never be able to compensate someone who is willing to put their life on the line and give it up. But what they are getting paid now is way too low," Cagle said about local officers.
Sheriff Schrader said he would be happy to also see his deputies receive retirement benefits and better health insurance premiums. 

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