Georgia House Study Committee hosts meeting at SGTC on State and Local Law Enforcement Salaries

Published 12:01 pm Friday, September 23, 2022

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From Staff Reports


AMERICUS – Members of the Georgia House Study Committee on State and Local Law Enforcement Salaries met with local and state law enforcement representatives in the John M. Pope Center at South Georgia Technical College recently.

Mike Cheokas, State Representative District 138, along with Representative Victor Anderson, Representative Clint Crowe, Representative Yasmin Neal, and Representative Bill Werkheiser met with representatives of state and local law enforcement agencies to examine how law enforcement salaries in Georgia compare to other states in an effort to retain and recruit law enforcement officers across the state.  The study committee, chaired by State Representative Mike Cheokas, will conclude its work by December 31st ahead of the 2023 Legislative session.

Representative Cheokas opened the meeting thanking everyone for their attendance.  South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford welcomed the law enforcement officials, Representatives, and others to the SGTC campus and provided a brief history about the college and several key programs of study available.  He talked about the importance of law enforcement officials and the training that SGTC provides.  He also compared the entry level salaries of law enforcement officials against other short-term training programs available at South Georgia Tech and other technical colleges.

Americus Mayor Lee Kinnamon also addressed the group and expressed his appreciation to Representative Cheokas and the committee for choosing Americus as one of the sites of their meetings.  He also thanked them for addressing the issue of state and local law enforcement salaries and the challenges that many municipalities are facing in an effort to recruit and retain qualified officers.

South Georgia Technical College Law Enforcement Academy Director Brett Murray talked with the officials about the SGTC Law Enforcement Academy POST certified training program and the salaries available to individuals upon graduation.  He has been with SGTC since October 2008 as the Law Enforcement Academy Director and Lead Instructor.  SGTC has helped train and graduate 234 law enforcement personnel since opening the academy.

Murray also spent 19 years in the law enforcement field working in Sumter County, Stewart County and Terrell County in various law enforcement positions.  He has a BS in Criminal Justice and a Masters of Public Administration from Columbus State University.  He is a certified Georgia Peace Officer and has a Georgia POST Instructor certificate.  He also attended the Georgia Chiefs Association Command College and the FBI National Academy 227th session.

Following the comments by President Watford, Mayor Kinnamon, and SGTC Law Enforcement Academy Director Brett Murray, the committee also heard prepared remarks from Vince Mooney of the Department of Public Safety who serves as the legislative liaison for legislative affairs at the Georgia State Capitol; Colonel Chris Wright, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety; Lt. Col. Billy Hitchens, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety; Major Josh Lamb, Chief of Staff for the Commissioner’s Office of the Department of Public Safety; Joe Chesnut, Georgia Bureau of Investigation; Michael Nair, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Supervision; Timothy C. Wart, Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Corrections; Donald Kirkland, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs in the Commissioner’s Office of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Frances Watson, Department of Revenue; James Beveridge, Department of Revenue; Butch Ayers of the Georgia Police Chiefs, Americus Police Chief Mark Scott, who is also first Vice President of the Georgia Police Chiefs; Chief Mike Persley, Albany Police Department and Georgia Police Chiefs; Chief Chuck Snyder, Norman Park Police Department and Georgia Police Chiefs; and Terry Norris, Georgia Sheriff and Executive Director at the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association.

Many law enforcement officials from Americus and Sumter County, Crisp County, Macon County, and surrounding counties were in attendance.