Political Insider

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Dog the Bounty Hunter rips into Georgia governor over police pay

TV personality Dog the Bounty Hunter tore into Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia politicians over a stalled measure that would raise the salaries of deputy sheriffs and local police officers to the same level that Georgia state troopers are paid.

The measure, sponsored by state Sen. Michael Williams, has failed to gain traction in the final days of the legislative session. Deal and legislative leaders contend it is up to city and county officials, and not the state, to pony up more cash to hike the pay for local officers.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the reality TV star - whose real name is Duane Chapman - said Deal's stance was "shameful" and that "GA has cops on food stamps." He urged residents to sign a petition to support a "livable wage" for officers that had attracted a few hundred signatures by Monday afternoon.

Deal has said sheriff’s pay should be decided by county commissions, adding that shifting salary hikes to the state would also give Georgia the “control mechanism” over local deputies. The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police also opposed the measure over similar concerns. (Updated at 1 p.m. Tuesday: Frank Rotondo, executive director of the police chiefs association, said that while an analysis of the original draft of the bill was highly critical, they are not opposed to the legislation.)

Williams, who is a likely candidate for higher office, proposed the plan after Deal and GOP legislative leaders engineered the 20 percent pay hike for most state law enforcement officers that elevated their starting pay to $46,422.

Sheriffs contend it’s hard to compete for top talent when, according to the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, the average starting salary for a deputy doesn’t reach $30,000.

And to ratchet up the pressure, Williams sent a robo-call featuring Chapman to more than 500,000 Georgia voters urging Senate leaders to give the measure, Senate Bill 254 , a hearing.

Read the Twitter exchange here:

And a response from Deal spokeswoman Jen Talaber Ryan:



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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.