Senators approve bill studying local police officer pay


The Georgia Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would require local police departments to conduct salary surveys, which could help them determine how best to increase officer salaries.

Lawmakers are trying to help local law enforcement departments retain their officers after passing a drastic pay hike for state police two years ago.

One of those ways could be through a yet-to-be-created “local law enforcement compensation grant program” available to the state’s poorest counties. The grant program would also need to be funded through this year’s budget before it could be in place.

The state Department of Community Affairs would analyze the provided salary surveys and provide the reports to the local governments.

“We have to help those local law enforcement officials to find a way to afford to be competitive,” said state Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, who sponsored the legislation, Senate Bill 366.

Officers have left county and city police departments with staffing shortfalls as officers leave for state jobs making more money, he said.

“We will continue to lose more and more officers if we can’t compete with the counties around us and the state patrol,” Gooch said.

The legislation was one of several law enforcement-focused bills approved by the Senate on Wednesday that were proposed after a task force studied officer pay last year.

Other measures include Senate Bill 367, which aims to increase support for the families of officers who have died in the line of duty, and Senate Bill 368, which would allow the state to provide technical support to rural law enforcement departments.

The package of legislation heads to the House for consideration.

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